New campaign raises nearly $200,000 for OSU mental health services
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Media Contact: Mack Burke | Associate Director of Media Relations | 405-744-5540 | firstname.lastname@example.org
When a new initiative at Oklahoma State University was in need of support, the Cowboy family showed its character.
On Oct. 8, OSU launched Cowboys United for Mental Health with one goal in mind — to improve OSU students’ access to mental health resources on campus.
Thanks to the commitment of the OSU community, the inaugural campaign was a resounding success.
Across the five-day campaign, a total of $193,544 was raised. The sum nearly doubled the original goal of $100,000. The first $70,000 raised was matched dollar-for-dollar through the generosity of 14 matching gift donors.
OSU will use the funds to elevate and expand mental health services for students, building upon the multi-layered system of support already in place.
“The entire Cowboy family coming together around this important cause was so exciting to watch,” said Adrian Matthys, assistant vice president of annual giving at the OSU Foundation. “Alumni, faculty, staff, students and generous members of the OSU community all played a part in raising these funds to support campus mental health services.”
Across the nation, the need for mental health services on college campuses has outgrown the available resources. This trend is apparent throughout the OSU-Stillwater campus, where mental health is becoming an increasingly larger priority to students. In a 2019-2020 study, 42% of OSU students reported that they have received psychological or mental health services, and 76% reported they would consider seeking help from a mental health professional.
“The mental health of our students is a top priority at OSU,” said Dr. Doug Hallenbeck, OSU vice president of student affairs. “It is part of the culture of care that we are constantly working to evolve. The success of this campaign shows the Cowboy family cares about each other and is willing to make a difference.”
Support generated from the campaign will increase funds for a variety of mental health resources such as Togetherall, an online service that will provide 24/7 support for all students across the OSU system.
The university also will be able to increase the number of free counseling appointments offered to students and provide more financial assistance to students who require outside care from a mental health professional.
“Our goal is to provide easy access for mental health support to all students,” Hallenbeck said. “The money raised will go directly to helping students get the help they need that will make a difference in their life.”
Raedyn Magness is a member of the Student Foundation and understands the struggle many of her peers have regarding mental health.
Students leave home for the first time and are expected to care for themselves, do well in class and be involved on campus, all while maintaining their social needs. Magness thinks there’s pressure to present a calm demeanor regardless of the struggles someone is facing.
“At times, it can feel like failure is just right around the corner,” said Magness, a senior studying biochemistry and molecular biology. “It is easy to get stuck in the mindset that everything is going wrong and that the world is against you. That kind of discouragement can be heavy and hard to overcome.”
"This campaign is so encouraging as a student. Recognizing that students struggle with depression, feeling unwelcome or not belonging is easy, but taking action by fundraising is helping to solve the problem now.”
On the final day of the campaign, the OSU Student Foundation hosted the walk outside Willard Hall on a beautiful fall evening. It was held to educate students about the many mental health resources available on campus and spread awareness for Cowboys United for Mental Health. Attendees mingled with campus leaders, including Hallenbeck and OSU President Kayse Shrum.
Magness said she truly feels the impact of the Cowboy family through initiatives like Cowboys United for Mental Health.
“This campaign is so encouraging as a student,” Magness said. “Recognizing that students struggle with depression, feeling unwelcome or not belonging is easy, but taking action by fundraising is helping to solve the problem now.”
Members of the Interfraternity Council also attended Walk the Block. Council president Tanner Taylor said one of the organization’s biggest areas of concern is poor mental health, which can keep students from getting the most out of their experience at OSU.
In an effort to address this priority, the council presented a $2,500 check to the campaign at the student-focused event.
“A large majority of our students are involved in extracurricular activities and often still manage to work enough hours to stay afloat financially,” Taylor said. “All the stress of involvement can often weigh students down.
“It’s no secret that mental health affects young men, and we want to work to help break the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.”
Another significant contribution to the campaign came from OSU alumnus and Indonesian Ambassador Rosan Perkasa Roeslani. He learned about the campaign before the OSU football game against Texas Tech and was instantly inspired to get involved.
Roeslani made a remarkable $50,000 gift that will make a huge difference in the lives of many students.
But it isn’t just the large donations that will make an impact. The final total was raised from 380 individual donors, who each played a special role in the campaign, Matthys said.
“The first Cowboys United did a boatload of good, but raising awareness and providing the highest caliber mental health services to OSU students will always be needed,” he said. “Our hope is that even more members of the Cowboy family will participate next year so we can do even more good for our students.”
After a successful inaugural campaign, Cowboys United for Mental Health will be a fall fixture well into the future.
“Mental illness can feel like an invisible struggle,” Magness said. “But through Cowboys United for Mental Health, I think we can help to make sure no OSU student struggles alone.”
For more information on how you can support mental health services at OSU, contact Jayme Ferrell at jferrell@OSUgiving.com or 405-714-8977.
Photos by: OSU Foundation and Learfield
Story by: Grant Ramirez | STATE Magazine