'Very sullen, grave couple of days:' UNC students spend 'Wellness Day' checking in on each other

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- You didn't need to go far off UNC's campus Tuesday to find students trying to get away from it all.

"We're in the middle of a public health and mental health crisis," said Christina Boelkins, a junior from Charlotte.

Boelkins went to the NC Student Center on Franklin Street on this one-day break from school.

The center had free meals, ministers and youth pastors to talk to and a worship service late Tuesday night.

UNC cancels classes Tuesday over mental wellness concerns

"It's been a very sullen, grave couple of days," Christina said. "It's almost not real, especially coming back from COVID. You're like 'Oh it's going to be a normal semester' and then something like this happens."

UNC canceled all classes Tuesday after a suicide and an attempted suicide over the weekend.

In the chancellor's note to the community, he said two students have died in the past month.

As UNC deals with mental health concerns, students say counseling center needs improvement
Sorority and fraternity houses hung banners of support for the entire community.

"Everyone today has been like, 'What can we do to check in with people,'" said Alex Riginos, a junior in the Kappa Delta sorority. "There like there constant texts about 'What are you doing to take care of yourself today?'"

Dr. Amy Ursano is an adolescent psychiatrist with UNC Health who saw students all Tuesday for check-ins

"I hate that it's happened in this setting and I'm so very sorry for all the loss we're feeling and the families are feeling," said Dr. Ursano "I think the problem right now is this feeling that sometimes things are normal and recognizing that they are really not normal."

"I know the pain, I've been in that place and I do think it's a reflection of a community failure," said UNC graduate student Thilini Weerakkody. "I think this is an important step and I'm grateful we're doing this work and we should always celebrate work and figure out how this is further means to serve the community."

"In the wake of the pandemic and transitioning back onto campus, people are overwhelmed with the amount of work they've had and the campus culture is little off," said UNC junior Alex Riginos.

There's also a mental health summit later in the month and UNC is launching the Heels Care Network--a campaign to promote and support mental health awareness.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.