Carlow Culture

Circle of Friends: The New Fight against Mental Illness 

Uzima owners, Sheronica and Mayan Marshall, photo by Amanda Hicks

Written by Amanda Hicks 

Uzima juice bar is building a new program to unite Pittsburgh college students in the fight against mental illness. With their new project and collaboration with Peoples Oakland, Uzima is offering the chance to bring together people to discuss mental health, and how to break down the stigmatization around it. 

With 39% of college students who face significant mental health issues, the need to talk about the mental health of college-age students is vital now more than ever. Uzima wants to help be a leader in the discussion, and their new project entitled Circle of Friends is doing just that by bringing students from various colleges across Oakland to “engage in a variety of activities to help promote mindfulness and the caring for others,” according to owners Mayan and Sheronica Marshall. 

Peoples Oakland, a recovery and wellness center, provides psychiatric and social rehabilitation services to adults with mental illness and disorders. This center focuses on wellness, substance abuse, holistic care, and mental health services to help adults in need that may not have the resources to get psychiatric help.  

But what is Circle of Friends? This new project will bridge the gap between students and counselors to foster a small community where mental health will be discussed freely and openly. Activities that will be included are: Tour, Talk & Tools where first-year students can tour Uzima, Peoples Oakland, and hear a testimony from upperclassman; Group Therapy where students can get scheduled group therapy sessions at Peoples Oakland with a certified counselor; The Circle where students will be put into small groups to support each other throughout their college experience; Peer Support where upperclassmen can counsel underclassmen; Taste of Home in which students will prepare home cooked meals for themselves and others; and lastly Uzima Talks, a chance for after-hour activities where students can hold open forums to discussion mental health related topics. 

With Circle of Friends, Oakland students can find a new home where they can explore their feelings about mental health, moving to college, navigating classes, and much more. Being in a city can be a scary experience that leaves many feeling isolated. Uzima and Peoples Oakland wants these students to find a community and possible new “family” to let them know that they are not alone, and there are people who are willing to reach out a hand to uplift and support them through their time in college. 

For more information, contact:  

To find out more about Peoples Oakland:  


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