Rethink is a student organization and Campus Y committee at the Univerisity of North Carolina Chapel Hill committed to changing the way that we think and talk about mental illnesses on our campus and in our community.
Throughout the year, we organize events aimed at fostering understanding among students and raising awareness about the current challenges in our mental health system. Our biggest project is a student-led sensitization training held several times a year, where students learn the basics about mental illnesses, the resources available at UNC, and how to be an affirming friend and peer.
Our hope is that no one at UNC feels unwelcome because of their experiences and that we create a space where it´s safe to talk about these issues so often ignored and misunderstood in our society.
It all started with two students who, inspired by UNC-Chapel Hill's LGBTQ awareness and interpersonal violence prevention training programs, set out to start a conversation about mental illnesses that would help dispel some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the issue.
In August 2011, with funding and support from the Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence and the Department of Housing, then sophomores Viviana Bonilla Lopez and Stephanie Nieves Rios founded Rethink: Psychiatric Illness as a project in the Connected Learning Program, a learning living community housed in Cobb Dorm.
In March 2012, along with 8 other amazing students, they launched the first Rethink training, which received an overwhelming response, with more than double the amount of students the training could accomodate signing up to attend.
The following month, Rethink: Psychiatric Illness was awarded the 2012 Diversity Award for Student Organization from UNC-Chapel Hill's Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.
In April 2012, Rethink: Psychiatric Illness joined the hub of social justice at UNC-CH by becoming a committee of the Campus Y.
During Rethink’s sophomore year, Taylor Swankie joined Viviana and Stephanie as Co-Chair and the new Campus Y committee increased its membership, successfully hosted Mental Health Awareness Week, and even received a grant from DoSomething.org.
In Spring 2013, the Rethink training curriculum was revised based on feedback from the pilot training and 15 students were selected as the first class of Rethink Facilitators. By December 2013, over 280 students had been trained.
Since then, thanks to the work of our amazing members, Rethink is constantly strengthening and expanding our training program and continuing to spread acceptance, support, and hope.
"Being a senior in my four years at UNC, this is the first time this safe space was provided."
UNC-CH Alumni and Pilot Program Participant
"That's the only reason I really joined this group, because I really believed it could make a difference"
Tony Fang, Rethink Training Facilitator
Stephanie Nieves Rios
Co-Founder and Director of Facilitation
A San Juan, Puerto Rico native, Stephanie graduated from UNC with a B.A. in Psychology in May 2014.
At UNC, she worked tirelessly for social justice causes, particularly mental health awareness and LGBTQ issues.
In 2011, she co-founded Rethink with long-time friend Viviana Bonilla, serving the organization as Mentor, Co-Chair, and later Director of Facilitation.
As Co-Chair she was instrumental in the development of the training curriculum. As Director of Facilitation she created the orientation program for new facilitators, leading to better and more uniform trainings. In addition to sharing her personal story at trainings, she recruited and mentored other storytellers. Stephanie’s guidance and facilitation were also essential to the enactment of Rethink’s bylaws.
Always joyful and authentic, she was admired for her impressive facilitation skills and steadfast commitment to making Rethink a safe space for people of all identities.
Founding Member and Co-Chair
A Kitty Hawk, North Carolina native, Taylor is a Health Policy and Management major from the Class of 2015.
At UNC, she has served the community in various roles including project leader on the Student Leadership Advisory Committee.
In 2011, she was one of 8 founding members who helped develop the Rethink program and the invited speaker at the pilot training. Since then, she has served as three-time Co-Chair.
As Co-Chair, Taylor was instrumental in ensuring the financial sustainability of the organization by spearheading fundraising efforts and managing its expenses. In addition to overseeing all the organization's endeavors and managing its executive board, her work building relationships with campus leaders and administrators increased Rethink's prominence on campus.
An inspiration to all who know her, she is admired for her bravery, constant availability, commitment to "getting things done," and determination to see Rethink succeed.
Viviana Bonilla López
Co-Founder and Co-Chair
A San Juan, Puerto Rico native, Viviana graduated from UNC in May 2014, earning a B.A. in journalism with a minor in entrepreneurship.
At UNC, she worked passionately for social justice as a mental health advocate and journalist.
In 2011, she co-founded Rethink with long-time friend Stephanie Nieves, serving the organization as Mentor and two-time Co-Chair.
In 2012, it was her efforts and leadership that led Rethink to become a Campus Y committee, ensuring its sustainability on campus for years to come.
As Co-Chair, she led the development of the training curriculum and evaluation. In addition to overseeing all the organization's endevors and managing its executive board, she also spearheaded publicity efforts and created and managed the website.
Known for her upbeat personality and desire to support others, she was admired for her never-ending drive to see Rethink grow and expand, ability to create and foster strong ties with members, and her commitment to inclusivity.