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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 25, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

College works to ‘stomp out stigma’

Students shared their experiences with mental illness to help “stomp out stigma” surrounding mental health issues, which are prevalent among college students.

In conjunction with the National Day Without Stigma, Ithaca College’s chapter of Active Minds hosted a student panel about mental illness Tuesday.

One in four college students struggle with mental health issues, and more than 50 percent of students deal with crippling stress every year, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. The college’s chapter of Active Minds works to raise awareness of mental health and create conversations to inform students about resources to help cope in stressful or mental health situations.

National Day Without Stigma is sponsored by Active Minds and the National Alliance of Mental Illness. Senior Danielle West, president of the college’s Active Minds chapter, said every chapter of the organization raises awareness across the country on the same day, which can help make change.

“People are becoming more aware of it, because it is a day where everyone is working towards the same goal of reducing and getting rid of the stigma,” West said.

The Speak Your Mind panel consisted of four student speakers from different years and majors. Students spoke about their experiences with mental illness and how they live a normal life while struggling with a mental illness in college, West said. Attendees learned through the panel that it’s normal for people to go to counseling.

In addition to the SYM panels, the group holds larger events like the De-stress Fest at the end of the semester.

“We have a bunch of activities from bubblewrap popping to pet therapy to coloring and cookie decorating, just to have people relax before finals,” West said.

To continue the conversation about mental health, Active Minds is developing The Mirror, a magazine that will be passed out after SYM panels. Senior Emily Nowels said she wanted to develop something people could pick up, bring back to their roommates and have a conversation about.

“We wanted it to be something that connected to people, and I think literature is just such a powerful way of doing that. I think it’s the perfect way to connect to a bigger audience,” Nowels said.

All literary and visual submissions would be by people who were touched by mental health and mental illness, whether positive or negative.

Sophomore Kaley Belval said she included her participation in Active Minds and the fact that she was a SYM panelist on her resume and encountered stigma against mental illness.

“I went to meet with someone about my resume, and she crossed it out and said that was a red flag, because if you have something about your mental health on your resume, then they think you’re unstable,” Belval said. “That was something that really struck me, because mental health is something that’s really important, and it doesn’t mean you’re unstable or that you’re not intelligent.”

There are resources for people with mental illness on campus as well as off campus. The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services is available for one-on-one counseling and group counseling sessions. There is also a mindful meditation group as an alternative to counseling. West said the resources just come down to being aware of the triggers of mental illnesses and then having ways to cope with them.