The Friendship Bench was launched on April 21st, 2015 in honour of Lucas Fiorella, a 2nd year university student who, before succumbing to depression and taking his own life, sought out and helped other students secretly suffering from anxiety and depression.
The introductory video posted to the Bench’s Facebook page was shared more than 400 times and viewed by more than 22,000 people within 48 hours (not including views and shares that occurred on the official website).
What has truly astounded us is the number of students who have reached out to us to report that they have been suffering from some level of anxiety or depression and have been doing so in silence. The response from parents and the general public, not to mention the feedback received from students, confirms we’re on the right track.
A Loyola University Study detailed in the University Herald earlier this week reported that “intervention programs” were needed in colleges to help combat the growing number of students suffering from anxiety and depression. The study concluded that programs which help prevent emotional distress and promote psychosocial assets perform better at reducing stress-related depression.
The Friendship Bench, through its on-campus awareness campaigns and group-chat facilitation, is one avenue of intervention that will encourage those students who remain silent about their suffering to access the available on-campus resources.
Thank You Donors!
We must acknowledge the very generous donation by Alex Agius and Joe Lanni of DistinctTech, which put us over the top! Thank you Alex and Joe! We’re already working on plans for the first two bench projects – stay tuned for details. Heartfelt thanks must also go out to the full list of contributors who collectively donated $11,365 in just 48 hours.
Now on to the next level!
Your ongoing support of this program is essential. Please continue to raise awareness of the need for mental health support in our schools. And please consider a personal or corporate donation; any amount – big or small – will make a difference in the life of a current or future student.
Here’s how you can help:
Donations can be made here: https://thefriendshipbench.org/donate/
Corporate support : https://thefriendshipbench.org/corporate-support/
Help us promote: https://thefriendshipbench.org/promote/
Request a bench: https://thefriendshipbench.org/request-a-bench/
We’re aiming for a total of $25,000 in donations this spring so that we can begin work with at least 5 campuses starting this fall.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Together we are making a difference!
Good for you! Your program is fantastic, especially the way you are bringing these issues into the real world and into public spaces. Much applauded.
Thanks, Jason – the support so far has been amazing, and the fact we can now start providing benches to faculties is awesome. Now to get to work and keep the momentum going, and start helping students across Canada.