Healthy Huskies updates campaign to fit the times of COVID-19

“Hey, You Okay?” campaign is moving to an online format because of the pandemic. Photo credit: Healthy Huskies’ Facebook page

Mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic is the driving force behind Healthy Huskies’ new online campaign, “Hey, You Okay?.” The campaign, in it’s third year, was changed to fit in more with the current pandemic and social distancing guidelines.

“Hey, You Okay?” is a program Healthy Huskies started as a community initiative for deeper connections. The program makes it easier to reach out to someone or for someone to reach out when they need help. In order to do this, they created a five step process that starts with having a conversation and ends by providing the user with more tools on how to reach out for help.

Before COVID-19, there was not really a need for people to use cell phones or computers to do any of the steps. Since there is more distance between people now, it is more likely you would need to use a cellphone or a computer to do some of these steps.

Student peer educators from Healthy Huskies wanted to change the campaign to better align with the social distancing guidelines and move to an online format because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of our student educators brought up the idea of reforming our ‘Hey, You Okay?’ [program] into a more socially [distanced] and COVID-19 practical campaign,” Erica Karger-Gatzow, the Assistant Director of Health Promotion and Marketing for SCSU’s Medical Clinic, said.

By moving “Hey, You Okay?” online, they have changed the steps of the campaign to fit in more with the recommended COVID-19 guidelines. The original steps had a lot of in-person events happening; this was an issue that needed to be worked-out due to COVID-19.

Step one of the program is starting a conversation with the user. Asking about how someone is doing and why you are concerned about them. Previously done in-person, this application made that change to online possible.

“Our original campaign had people doing in-person conversations and [meeting] the person,” Samantha Yang, a graduate assistant for Healthy Huskies, said.  “But now, it is saying that sending a message or having virtual conversations works to reach people who need help. It also gives people ideas on how to do this.”

During the pandemic, other programs and departments have partnered with Healthy Huskies to help spread the positive message of mental health education. By partnering with other organizations, Healthy Huskies has been able to reach more students, especially those who live off-campus.

Gatzow stated that the partnerships with other programs on campus while ramping up their virtual presence has given other groups more ways to share information on multiple platforms. This strategy has helped to reach more people who are not on campus regularly.

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