UO campaign wants to change culture of mental health

‘It’s really about how do we stop something from becoming a bigger problem’

Ducks Change Together, or DC2, is a student-run campaign that’s trying to tackle a campus-wide issue. The campaign, which is part of a broader effort by the Campaign to Change Direction, aims to change the culture around mental health and to help students know that mental health problems are just as serious as physical ailments. Through their partnership with Edelman, a global PR agency, the Campaign to Change Direction has given students at almost 80 universities around the country the opportunity to promote a new conversation about mental health.

‘We’re not trying to ban teen smoking, we’re not trying to make a huge change, we just want people to be more aware when a fellow duck is maybe struggling or needs someone to talk too,’ said Ethan Dagenais, one of five UO students who’s working on the campaign.

‘It’s really about how do we stop something from becoming a bigger problem.’

The campaign works to promote the idea that students should talk to each other about their mental health problems and be more cognizant of how their friends are acting and if they might need help with something in their personal life.

‘We see our friends and peers going through a variety of emotions while in school and its important to be able to recognize the negative emotions,’ said Dagenais.

The students who worked on the campaign built it around five specific signs of mental health issues, and are helping students recognize them. ‘We’re trying to raise awareness for the five signs that show someone may be sad or dealing with something,’ Dagenais added.

The signs are personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self care and hopelessness and the group’s goal is to have every student be aware of these cues and know that mental health is different than a physical illness.

The website for Ducks Change Together also asks that students take a pledge once they learn about the five signs. The pledge urges students to continue talking about mental health on campus and  ‘pledge to learn about the Five Signs of emotional suffering because Ducks fly together and together we will change.’

Another important part of the campaign was promoting and teaming with the UO Duck Nest, the new student wellness that offers many programs for students to help relieve stress and and anxiety, including meditation, yoga and acupuncture.

‘It’s how do we take better self care, and how are we able to reach out to someone and just offer a hand and be a person that can be a listening ear and someone to talk too,’ said Dagenais.

Even as the campaign comes to an end, Dagenais is confident that the conversation they started will continue on campus and continue to be promoted by the Duck Nest.

‘It’s about everyone looking out for one another,’ said Dagenais.

An important conversation to have on every campus and one that is not taken as seriously as other issues, knowledge about mental health continues to increase at UO due to campaigns like this one.

Overall, the campaign seeks to help students build a network of support on campus. ‘It’s about not being afraid to extend that hand, reach out and connect,’ he said.


University of Oregon