WEvolve focused on campus mental health

WEvolve Mental Health Association, a mental health advocacy group started in the fall of 2023, is the first group of its kind at the University of Detroit Mercy. 

Marc Naddaf and Farah Abdulrahim, the current presidents of WEvolve, relayed that the organization was created to make a safe space in which the group could aid students in navigating mental health challenges, staying true to their chosen statement, “Breaking Stigmas and Fostering Wellness.”  

“It’s meant to be a safe haven and it’s meant to help enhance growth within our community, which aligns with Detroit Mercy vision statement,” Abdulrahim said.  

Many of the members spoke about their personal journey with mental health, as well as how they observed their family and friends’ struggles. This led to an identification of stigma and misguided shame surrounding mental health.  

“We witnessed firsthand the reluctance of individuals to seek help due to the fear of judgment… this ignited a passion within us to create a platform where people could openly discuss their experiences, access resources, and find support without fear of stigma,” Naddaf said.  

Abdulrahim stated that this generation is entering an age where many are realizing the need to be open about mental health struggles.  

“WEvolve has the ability to make changes and to spread knowledge about mental illnesses that some people never really understood,” Abdulrahim said.  

WEvolve focuses on educating their audience and members, called “WEvolvers,” which can be seen on their social media page that is covered with infographics, encouraging posts and reminders to invest in self-care. WEvolve’s social media page is one of the most followed organizations on UDM’s campus to date. 

WEvolve’s executive board also spoke of the changes they themselves have experienced since joining the organization. Marino Solaka, the co-treasurer of WEvolve, recounted how being part of the organization made him look at everyday life a bit differently and how it helped him grow as an individual.  

“You try and be careful how you speak to others, try to read people, to understand if they are going through something which changes the way you converse with them, and make sure they’re okay,” Solaka said.  

Solaka also described the dynamic of the group as being extremely supportive, uplifting towards one another and open-minded as they think about how to go forward as an organization. He also described everyone as a family rather than an organization. As WEvolve has created a safe space for each member to share their personal challenges, the executive board has also bonded in their discussions about their own struggles, which has enhanced the group’s advocacy and passion. 

WEvolve has held self-care events throughout the 2023-24 school year, such as a Pinterest board making to aid in goal creation. It has also collaborated with non-profits such as Auntie Na’s to give back to the Detroit community.