An atmosphere of solemnity and understanding was created this past Wednesday at the Mental Health Across Cultures event, hosted by the Wellness Center as part of the Healthy Campus Initiatives.
The event featured an open forum discussion allowing students to freely interact and explain their views and opinions on mental health within modern societies and cultures.
“In the past couple of years, we’ve really been advocating for talking about mental health more openly,” said Srishti Dhar, HCI intern and planner/coordinator of Mental Health Across Cultures. “But I feel there’s still a need to talk about mental health in different communities.”
Not only were food and refreshments brought to the table, but lively discussion was as well.
“I felt there was a real need for a specific event like this, especially on a growing campus,” Dhar said. “I feel like it makes everyone more aware of what’s going on.”
The interactive environment set a positive tone for the overall event, during which a PowerPoint presentation of thought provoking questions was displayed. Afterwards, brief reviews and analysis took place on the possible repercussions of the actions depicted.
As students casually discussed their experiences, stories and thoughts in a non-judgmental environment they paved the way for meaningful conversation, dealing with issues surrounding mental health and improvements that can be made to lessen the stigma surrounding it.
“I think it’s really beneficial to talk about these things, especially for people our age,” said Brieanna Sanchez, a sophomore psychology major.
A sentiment was shared equally by students and coordinators alike: the importance of recognizing the stigma of mental illness and health while overcoming its obstacles.
“For some cultures it’s common to not talk about mental health,” Dhar said. “If you see someone who is a part of your culture talking about those issues, I’m sure that that helps and gives you the confidence and courage to speak out about your own issues.”
Dhar hoped this event would inspire others like it to emerge, becoming stepping stones for raising awareness in their communities.
“The only way to learn more and to gain more understanding, is to put yourself out there,” Sanchez said. “You shouldn’t feel like anyone will judge you, because we’re all here to learn from each other.”
Dhar concluded that her ultimate hope is for people to realize that no matter the culture or society, there should be no shame in talking about mental health.
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