Behind The Scenes: Buck The Stigma and Mental Health Awareness

As our final project approached, all of our group members were feeling stressed and a bit overwhelmed. We knew that Cal Poly’s annual Buck The Stigma week was approaching and we thought that would be a perfect event to cover and link with the greater conversation of mental health on college campuses.

Since the week’s events were held on campus, it made the reporting process a lot easier. The different pop up tents with resources and events like Spark Joy and Therapy Dogs on Dexter were hard to miss. It was a great learning experience and we all learned a lot about campus resources through covering this topic. Plus, we might have pet a few dogs along the way.

Students petting therapy dogs on Dexter Lawn







Each event was run by students representing PULSE, an on-campus peer mentoring group through Campus Health and Wellbeing, and ASI. They also had other professionals such as Annie Jankovitz, the College of Wellness Coordinator for the County of San Luis Obispo Health Department, who we were able to interview. She shared with us that Buck The Stigma is a great catalyst to start important conversations on our campus.

“People in general are becoming more open to discussing mental health,” Jankovitz said. 

In the beginning our focus was mainly event coverage and we were given only one week deadline, so that the article could be published and timely. Our group worked quickly to get first drafts done soon.

“Getting my portion of our last project done early was such a blessing in disguise. Our teamwork was solid and we worked well together throughout the whole quarter. This project revolving around mental health was an important one to cover especially around finals season,” Tessa, our multimedia team member, said.

Students learn more at Buck The Stigma pop-up tents

However, like in most reporting, we ran into a few challenges along the way, and we decided to refocus our article mainly on mental health data and tie in Buck The Stigma as a great example of what college campuses can do to help. Jeremy, who was in charge of the written portion,  gathered data from American College Health Association (ACHA) to support the new scope of the article.

“This has been an interesting project for me. I haven’t written an article in a quite a while so it definitely feels like I’m shaking off some rust in both interviewing sources and writing news style. Fortunately, with the help of my group-mates, I was able to conduct solid interviews in a quick and timely manner,” Jeremy said. “Unfortunately, due to the week-long break for thanksgiving, our original story and angle is no longer a timely story. It’s a challenge having to switch gears and try and write about this issue of student mental health from a different angle.”

Overall, we were able to be adaptable and work as a group to make the project a cohesive story. We learned a lot along the way.

Erin, Jeremy and Tessa interviewing a source







“Buck the Stigma was a great final project for the quarter! Overall this class has been helpful to practice the skills I have learned in my college career,” Erin, our audio/video producer, said. “My group was extremely helpful and we worked cohesively throughout the last 11 weeks!”