Helgren-Kim platform seeks to eliminate stigma of mental illness

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Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Executive alliance candidates Kevin Helgren and Binna Kim want to encourage students to share their stories — all 50,000 of them.

Through the campaign theme “Share Your Story,” Helgren and Kim hope to encourage participation from students who are not typically involved with Student Government and to listen to the unique experiences of UT students. 

Helgren and Kim’s platform includes combating sexual assault, building a home atmosphere for students who are new to the University, increasing food and exercise options, representing the diversity of students and eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness.

Helgren, a neuroscience and psychology senior, has served as a university wide representative in Student Government, student director at Camp Texas, media and public relations chair of Texas 4000 and student ambassador in the Office of Admissions. Marketing junior Kim is the Kappa Delta delegate for University Panhellenic Council, a founding member of Not On My Campus and serves on the executive board for Undergraduate Business Council. 

Helgren, who grew up in Austin, said he was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome — a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements — in sixth grade and said mental health is an issue he is deeply passionate about.

“Binna and I want to work with CMHC and bring awareness to existing resources as well as establish MindBody Labs [self-paced environments designed to help UT students explore resources for improving their emotional and physical health] in the SAC,” Helgren said. “We also want to include a list of mental health resources on the dorm desks of all incoming students and create a week devoted to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.”

Kim said she and Helgren would like to mainstream communication with organizations that combat sexual assault, such as Voices Against Violence and Not On My Campus.

“We want to create a culture that is supportive of and receptive to the stories of sexual assault survivors,” Kim said. “We want them to be able to share their stories if that is what will help them overcome their experiences.”

Helgren said his peak was the time he sang “Jar of Hearts” and performed an interpretive dance in a male beauty pageant during his sophomore year at the University.

Brittany Le, Helgren’s friend and biology senior, said she has never met anyone who is more passionate about UT and its students.

“He is one of the most driven people that I have ever met,” Le said. “The thing that drives him and makes him a successful leader is his passion and unwavering dedication to people. I know that if I ever needed Kevin for anything, he would drop everything in an instant and be there for me.”

Kim is from Plano, Texas, loves basketball and said her claim to fame is winning the championship game with her middle school basketball team, The Little Dribblers.

Tyler Scott, Kim’s friend and marketing senior, said Kim makes everyone around her feel appreciated without expecting anything in return. 

“Binna [Kim] sets all of her goals with the intention of reaching and impacting as many people as possible,” Scott said. “I think our campus could greatly benefit from having someone like her at the forefront — she just simply gets people.”