The Deeper Meaning Behind the Mental Health Awareness 5K

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The outpouring of love that filled Charlottesville at the charity concert last Sunday was only an augmentation of the care this community continues to prove itself capable of. On Saturday morning, just around 10 am, nearly 300 students, staff and local residents gathered in support of the mental health of our Hoos.

The 5k for Mental Health Awareness was the product of weeks of hard work by members of UVA’s Third Year Counsel and 4th Year Trustees’ Wellness subcommittee. Subcommittee chair and UVA 4th year Zoe Hemmer spoke about the group’s mission, saying that each student “advocates for both the mental and physical well being” of others. They endorse the implementation of self care into students’ daily lives and share their hopes that each person struggling with a mental illness will know that he or she is “not alone”.

Hemmer and 3rd year councilwoman Katie Mendenhall felt that the 5k was not only a perfect opportunity to share this message, but also a chance to commemorate the late Joshua Richardson.

Richardson, a promising varsity swimming and diving athlete who was scheduled to start his first year this fall, passed away in July. His grieving teammates’ heartwarming level of commitment to the 5k stood out to Hemmer as the “highlight” of the event. The race itself was dedicated to Richardson and the $2000+ in proceeds will be distributed to both the men and women winners’ choice organization. 

UVA Varsity Swim and Dive Team at the finish line (photo courtesy of 4th Year Trustees)

When asked what she hopes will be the takeaway for those who ran on Saturday, Hemmer pointed out that there is a tendency for students and adults alike to assume that a brave face indicates mental wellness. “Not all pain is visible and sometimes the deepest struggles come from within,” she explains. “Some people are struggling. They’re not okay- and that’s okay!”

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How to Get Help

WUVA wants you to know that we agree. If you or someone you know is having a hard time, please make use of the following resources:

UVA Counseling and Psychological Services:

Weekday #: 434-243-5150

Crisis Assistance and After Hours: 434-297-4261

Madison House HELP Line:

24/7 Confidential Assistance: 434-295-8255

Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center:

Weekday #: 434-982-2361

Suicide Statistics and Prevention Hotlines:

Grief and Loss Coping Resources:



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