Lexi smiling

Lexi smiling

Lexi Rodriguez is the creator of Hope Through Headphones, a nonprofit that started out as a Washburn Student Organization and is now looking to expand with chapters to other schools.

“I was bullied starting in fourth grade. I was called words that I didn’t even know what they meant. It just got progressively worse and worse, until sophomore year of high school which was my lowest point. I ended up eventually having to transfer schools because I just got so low. Everything that everyone was telling me to do wasn’t working. I would go home from school and go to my room and cry myself to sleep at night and wake up in the morning and I would feel physically sick thinking about going to school. I started skipping classes, then getting bad grades because I was skipping classes and getting into fights with my parents who at the time didn’t understand what was going on. Now they’re amazing and the second they realized what was going on they read books and articles and did everything they could to help, but for a while they didn’t understand what was happening.

It was really music that got me out of that and got me more hopeful and got me to feel better about myself. Ever since then I kind of stuck to that– this is what music can do, this is what music did for me. That transition from high school to college can be a crazy hard one, especially if you’re moving away from family and so seeing college students go through breakdowns, anxiety attacks and depression, seeing all that happen around me, is why I’m so proactive about mental health.

We may not be able to get students to just go sit and listen to five speakers about mental health, but we can get students to listen to music with mental health thrown in between it. So we did that and it was terrifying. I had never put a concert together ever. I had never planned a big event like that. Out of a core group of students putting this concert on I was the oldest one, and I wasn’t even 21. We had 13 bands and five speakers. Washburn Student Government gave us funding since we’re a student organization and that was super helpful. We realized that on top of the speakers a lot of the musicians had their own things to say about mental health and so that’s where I think it really expanded from.

This year we purposefully picked artists who are passionate about the topics, so all of the bands are taking time out of their sets to talk about it as well. We opened the conversation to more than mental health this year too. We have a music therapy speaker, a speaker talking about substance abuse and addiction, as well as resources coming in and talking about domestic violence and abuse. It’s seriously just a room full of love.”

“What’s one piece of advice you want to give the people reading this?”

“Find the people that support you and help you and are there for you. Starting the Mental Music Scene I went up to my best friend and I said, ‘Hey, I want to have 10 bands, five speakers at a giant outdoor festival with food trucks. What do you think?’ And his first question was, ‘Okay, how can I help?’ Find those people in your life and keep them.”

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