This is a Guest Post by HUGstronger.

Kaleigh Somers’s college years were plagued by periods of personal doubt and depression, issues with body image, and academic obsessions.

To help empower college students and reassure them that they are not alone in their struggles, be those personal, professional, academic, or athletic, she developed HUGstronger, a content-driven blog community that operates on the belief that honest, authentic storytelling can change the world. The site categorizes posts into relationship struggles, being away from home, health issues, fitting in, academics, and letters to undergraduates in the same field of study.

HUGstronger launched on January 9, 2012 with a team of more than twenty writers. Updated daily, the site continues to drive new visitors as it reaches across the country — Michigan and Iowa, New York and Georgia — and across the globe — Australia, the United Kingdom, India and the Philippines.

“My close friends from home and school were struggling with extreme dieting, sexual promiscuity, panic disorders and suicidal thoughts,” founder Kaleigh Somers said. “I couldn’t sit back and let that drive their college experiences, and I knew empowered storytelling could change that.”

In just ten years, the number of women battling anorexia has increased by more than 75 percent. In the last year alone, bullying-related suicide has dominated the national news. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are rising at dramatic rates. Now, more than ever, undergrads need support.

The HUGstronger team believes young adults need to rise up against the biggest issues they face, but first they must know the team is here, extending a hand, offering them a virtual hug.

On January 30, HUGstronger launched a campaign on IndieGoGo to increase marketing efforts and pay for site redesign costs. Within a week, the team had already raised more than a third of its goal and donations continue to flood in.

College-aged individuals can read informative, empowering posts by like-minded individuals at www.hugstronger.com. They can also submit their stories, share how they’ve helped others grow since coming to college, and join the HUGstronger team.

HUGstronger continues to seek new writers to join the team and contribute on a one-time or regular basis. The more stories shared, the more likely readers will connect with the team and its mission.

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