S.H.O.E.S Project spotlights mental health

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A university here in Eastern Carolina is continuing a tradition of helping others understand what it’s like to “walk a mile in another person’s shoes.

Mental health touches all people of all ages. East Carolina University wants its students and staff to know they have a place to go if they are struggling with these issues.

Boots, sneakers, and flip-flops can be seen on ECU’s campus Thursday – 450 in all – and each with a note.

“She lost her mom her junior year of high school and faces many daily struggles” – writes Allissa on one of the notes.

The powerful words are part of ECU’s shoes project – which stands for students honoring others’ everyday struggles and stories — and was created in 2016. Each pair — meant to show to others that they aren’t alone when it comes to the struggles of mental health.

“Mental health is important because we all have hardships and all have stuff going on in our lives that we struggle with and it’s important to check up with each other and make sure we are all okay and staying positive because life is good,” Says student at ECU, Kayla Precht.

The shoes were collected from students at ECU and Hope Middle School. Cary Stancil, a dorm coordinator on campus – says that most students at ECU are in a vulnerable age bracket.

“It’s a way for East Carolina to recognize mental health issues that are common on college campuses and common society so young adults are one of the largest demographics of mental health struggles and this is our way to acknowledge what our students go through,” Says Stancil.

in addition to the wealth of stories on the shoes — students and faculty could write down reasons why they are worthy of being loved on a big chalkboard at the event. Student Autumn Felton said she’s glad to know there’s counseling available at ECU if it’s needed.

“Classes are stressful and so events like this help me know that all students struggle and that there are people out here and resources that are here to help,” says Felton.

East Carolina University offers free counseling services for staff, students, and people who live in the surrounding communities.