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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

March 9, 2015

Northwest joining #IWILLLISTEN to raise awareness of mental illness

By Alexandra Mortallaro, media relations assistant

Northwest Missouri State University is bringing #IWILLLISTEN, a visible social media campaign spreading across college campuses to raise awareness and fight mental health stigma, to its campus and the Maryville community.

The Northwest campaign launches Monday, April 20, and Tuesday, April 21. The launch will include activities to raise awareness about mental health in a practical, safe and social environment with professional, community and campus support.

The two-day event kicks off with a gathering of support from 2 to 4 p.m. April 20 in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom. Maryville Mayor Renee Riedel will present a city proclamation in favor of #IWILLLISTEN and attendees will have the opportunity to visit, eat, listen to music and make pledge videos for social media.

Additionally, Barb Ricci, head of the Board of Directors National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) New York City Metro, will discuss her experience with mental illness at 7 p.m. that evening in the Union Ballroom.

Students involved in the project through student organizations such as the Behavioral Sciences Association and To Write Love on Her Arms will search campus and the community to film #IWILLLISTEN videos showing the community’s support for the effort on April 21. 

“The Northwest campaign will be great for students to enlighten them on the struggles of mental health issues and to show them that there are people in the community and on campus who are willing to come together and support whatever struggles they might be going through,” said Keyonna Hawkins, a senior psychology major from St. Joseph., Mo.  “The campaign is also a great opportunity to reach out to the three out of four people who don't struggle with mental health issues. It gives them a fun and informational chance to understand and learn about those struggles.”

The National Association of Mental Illness in New York City began the #IWILLLISTEN campaign to encourage individuals without mental illnesses to listen non-judgmentally and help those who disclose mental illnesses.

“The #IWILLLISTEN campaign is unique because it is different from most mental health campaigns,” said Dr. Edwards, Northwest professor of psychology. “Most mental health campaigns have a list of symptoms and tell the person struggling where to get help. This one tries to get the community and people who don’t struggle with mental illness to pay attention to how they affect people who are mentally ill.”  

I Will Listen T-shirtsThe ground-level support, for the effort at Northwest and in Maryville comes from the Department of Behavioral Sciences, To Write Love on Her Arms, the Behavioral Sciences Association, the Wellness Center, Personal Development and Counseling Services, New Beginnings Counseling Center, and St Francis Hospital and Health Services.

Students who put at least 25 hours of volunteer work into the #IWILLLISTEN campaign have the opportunity to attend a 5k in New York City, hosted by NAMI, to raise money and awareness for mental health. Participating students also will spend time doing service work at a homeless shelter.

“For the students who are helping with the campaign, it's a great opportunity to grow and experience working as a mental health advocate and making connections,” Hawkins said.

#IWILLLISTEN T-shirts are available for $10 in Edwards’ office from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Colden Hall 2430. Students are encouraged to wear the T-shirt during the two-day campaign launch at Northwest.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. For more information about NAMI, visit

For more information about Northwest’s #IWILLLISTEN campaign, contact Edwards at 660.562.1263 or

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468