Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

How Day by Day University advocates for students of color’s mental health

Podcast seeks to destigmatize the conversation around mental health on campus
All photos courtesy of Eden Olayiwole.
All photos courtesy of Eden Olayiwole.

Day by Day University (DBDU) is a student-run podcast that advocates for the mental health of people of color, specifically college students. Hosted by the 10-member executive board, podcast episodes target various aspects of mental health, like exploring resources as a freshman, using art as an outlet and navigating friendships on campus.

“Students of color are not really advocated for, especially in predominantly white spaces, and I wanted this podcast to be a place where [they] feel accounted…[and] have a support system [through] our platform,” President Eden Olayiwole, a senior communication and psychology major, said.

In 2023, over 76 percent of college students experienced moderate to serious psychological distress. At the University of Massachusetts, around 35 percent of domestic undergraduates identify as ALANA (African American or Black; Latinx; Asian; Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander; two or more races).

Founded in 2021, the group records biweekly episodes and posts them on Spotify, Apple Music, Castbox, Google Podcasts and Amazon Music. Their latest episode was with Yolando Ramos, a clinical social worker at the Center for Psychological Health and Counseling (CCPH), titled “All Things Therapy.”

Senior psychology major Nicolle Gudiel Winter, DBDU’s outreach lead, hopes to reach a wider listening audience that continues the mental health conversation for people of color. “I truly just want for the podcast to flourish and continue to have a presence on campus,” she said.

For Winter, joining DBDU allowed her to destigmatize the conversation around mental health and be part of it on campus. “I found the podcast to be a good medium to engage with and bring awareness to mental health here on campus,” she explained.

The welcoming co-hosts, along with the insightful conversations they had about maintaining their mental health while juggling college, were the reasons she stayed with the group.

Olayiwole was one of the founding members of the podcast. The group organized in spring 2021 and started recording episodes by fall 2021, having five hosts at the time. The entire staff were people of color and would bond over their shared experiences

with mental health. “None of us had anything in common, but we had one common goal of [wanting] people to know about what mental health [issues could look like].”

From there, the podcast expanded. By 2022, they had over 1,000 listeners on Spotify, increasing the frequency of episodes they recorded as well. Previously, they would record three or four podcasts a semester, but this spring, they’ve already crossed that number with more podcasts coming out in the next few weeks.

At the start, DBDU’s focus was on educating through their conversations. In her presidency though, Olayiwole wants to further that objective through stories and narratives but also partner with on-campus student organizations and do more outreach.

In the past, the organization has collaborated with numerous groups on campus to record their podcasts, like the Black Mass Communications Project (BMCP), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and She is Goals.

Olayiwole added, “I’ve been in predominantly white spaces my entire life, so the podcast offered me the opportunity to speak out. [After] I had the opportunity to speak once, I just could not stop speaking, and ever since then, I just grew more and more passionate about these topics.”

Her passion eventually pushed her to become the president of the organization. Olayiwole’s favorite part of working on DBDU are the co-hosts. “I love hearing from my co-hosts so much…I’ve built such a close relationship with them. Despite being the president, I’m able to learn from them and hear different perspectives,” she said.

The podcast group also does outreach, where they’re involved with the University’s Fresh Check Day. Students can go to booths set up by different campus organizations and mentally ‘check in.’ Here, DBDU had a booth called ‘Mood Matters,’ which was a campaign about bipolar, anxiety and other mood disorders. At the booth, DBDU had a live podcast recording and interviewed people about their experiences.

“It was an opportunity for us to have deeper conversations in person and educate people as well,” Olayiwole said.

Their next episode will be about the pre-medical track and mental health. Following that, they’re working on one about fashion and mental health, examining the idea of “looking and feeling good.” DBDU is also trying to do a POC faculty episode.

“I really hope that more people would feel more comfortable to speak their story. I feel like hearing stories from other people and knowing, ‘Okay, I can relate to this and somebody else is also going through the same things that I have’ encourages [the hard] conversations,” Olayiwole explained.

She noted the internalization seen within marginalized communities about mental health and how podcasts like DBDU help destigmatize and decolonize what mental health is, inviting people to speak more about their experiences and be made aware that they’re not the only ones facing these.

In the future, the group is hoping to get Registered Student Organization (RSO) status and evolve into a larger POC mental health-centered outreach organization, potentially affiliating with CCPH and hosting more collaborations like with Fresh Check Day.

“I feel as though each episode touches a different avenue of mental health, whether that be about therapy or sports for example, that brings to light how mental health truly affects all aspects of life and should not be confined to the private sphere,” Winter added. “Please always take care of your mental health, because you cannot pour from an empty cup.”

MannMukti is a South Asian-focused mental health group at UMass. Founder Diya Antony said, “The work that Day by Day University does is crucial because it not only raises mental health awareness in POC communities, but also creates an affirming space for more POC narratives to be heard when discussing various topics within the mental health discourse.”

She added, “Mental health tends to be associated with whiteness, so hearing more voices of color in their podcast, coming from diverse backgrounds, goes a long way in decolonizing notions around mental health.”

Day by Day University can be reached on Instagram. The application cycle for next year’s co-hosts and executive board will be opening soon.

“Being a podcast co-host was not on my bingo card for my college career, but I have loved it very much!” Winter said.

Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X @Mahidhar_sl.

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