The Alpha-Chi Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, a fraternity at the University of Richmond, launched a mental health prevention campaign and fundraiser this week with its own brothers in mind.

Lambda Chi started the initiative by tabling inside the Tyler Hanes Commons. Members sold wristbands, raising more than $500 for the local Bon Secours St. Mary’s hospital, which provides a variety of services including mental health care.

Jasmine Feng, WC '20, saw the table and was impressed by the fraternity’s mental health outreach.

“I think it’s really great that they are addressing suicide prevention and mental health in general,” she said.

This fundraiser and campaign departs from Lambda Chi’s national philanthropy, Feeding America, due to motivations close to the chapter, according to junior Tyler Deen, Lambda Chi's chapter president.

“We have a lot of brothers who hold it as a very personal cause," he said. "Spreading awareness was something we discussed as a chapter."

Mental health awareness is meaningful for the Alpha-Chi Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi, and to brothers in other Lambda Chi chapters around the U.S. A Lambda Chi brother in another chapter recently committed suicide, philanthropy chair junior Ian Gallagher, RC said.

In addition to raising money from wristband sales, Lambda Chi spreads awareness of mental health issues by wearing purple every Thursday, the color that symbolizes suicide awareness and prevention. The tradition, which was inspired by a member of their chapter who has a personal connection to mental health issues, began this year, Deen said.

In addition to designing and ordering its own wristbands, Lambda Chi received mental health awareness pamphlets and materials from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to distribute while tabling in the Commons.

By donating all proceeds to St. Mary’s, Lambda Chi hopes to continue recognizing its close proximity to this issue by helping members of the Richmond community that struggle with mental health problems. 

"We realize UR students go to St. Mary’s to seek help for these problems, so our fundraiser will help them directly," Deen said.

Because of the chapter’s personal connection to this issue, members will continue to spread awareness after the fundraiser is over. 

One of the fraternity's members is bringing a mental health awareness walk to campus this April, which will be sponsored by CAPS and the student health center. Deen and Gallagher also plan on holding the campaign again next year.

Contact news writer Alexis Angelus at alexis.angelus@richmond.edu.