Student-led PR campaign gains traction, earns city-wide recognition

Madison Browder, News Writer

Birmingham Mayor William Bell recently proclaimed March 5 as Birmingham’s Mental Health Awareness Day as a direct result of the efforts of five Samford students.


Savannah Holaday, Lindsey Anderson, Liann Cates, Courtney Bobo and Sarah Tuttle comprise a five-person student public relations team whose efforts promoting mental health awareness were recognized by the City of Birmingham. | COURTESY OF SARAH TUTTLE

The five students—Lindsey Anderson, Courtney Bobo, Liann Cates, Savannah Holaday and Sarah Tuttle—started Face the Five as part of The Bateman Case Study Competition, a national public relations competition put on by the Public Relations Student Society of America. They were provided with a client called The Campaign to Change Direction, whose goal is to change the way society views mental illness.

“We are so overwhelmed by the support of Mountain Brook City Council, as well as Birmingham City Council, in recognizing our Face the Five efforts in erasing the stigma of mental health, along with Campaign to Change Direction,” senior journalism and mass communication major Cates said.

Their campaign to raise mental health awareness in the Birmingham community is in full swing on Samford’s campus.

Face the Five is encouraging everyone to take the pledge to know the five signs of mental health issues in hopes of raising awareness. The signs are: change in personality, agitation, withdrawal, decline in personal care and hopelessness.

Holaday, a junior journalism and mass communication major, said the goal of the campaign is not just to raise awareness about mental health, but to change the narrative surrounding it.

“We want to stress that emotional well-being is just as important as physical well-being,” Holaday said.

In an effort to change the stereotypes of mental health the students held a convocation event on Thursday, Feb. 23, in Harry’s Coffee House in collaboration with the Samford student organization You’re Not Alone.

The hour-long talk began with an introduction by Samford counselor, Rich Yoakum, followed by testimonies from three students affected by different areas of mental health.

Yoakum highlighted the efforts made by both groups in regard to raising awareness.

“There is power in numbers,” Yoakum said. “I see it all over campus, and it’s encouraging.”

The Face the Five campaign lasts until March 15. There are several events planned both on and off Samford’s campus, including tabling at the career fair on March 2 and at the baseball game on March 8. The group also will write letters to veterans with ROTC members and make visits to several churches and retirement homes in the Birmingham area.

“We are hopeful to engage in meaningful conversations with not only the Samford community but the Birmingham community, also,” Cates said.

Anyone wishing to get involved can visit to take the pledge, submit a testimony or learn more about the campaign.


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