With boxes of Papa John’s pizza off to the sides of Harris 107 and about a dozen identical bright blue T-shirts dispersed among the crowd, it was clear that Monday night’s event was a student-centered as opposed to donor-oriented. Hosted by NU Active Minds and the Undergraduate Psychological Association, it featured a student panel and mental health professionals on campus with an aptly summarized goal: Raising Awareness and Reducing Stigma.
The event took on a somber tone in the wake of last week’s tragic news. Students were encouraged to seek out support from Counseling and Psychological Services, or to talk to members of NU Active Minds.
Like many of the speakers, CAPS director Dr. John Dunkle chose his career path in part based on the struggles he faced when he was younger. “I didn’t want anyone else to feel alone like I felt as an undergrad,” Dunkle said. He encouraged audience members to reach out to friends that might be having problems and – if appropriate – refer them to CAPS.
Assistant professor Robin Nusslock moderated the discussion. Nusslock, director of the Mood Disorders Labratory, presented a few statistics about the prevalence of mental illness in the United States and mentioned how it has affected his family and friends.
“The pain from mental illness has become the defining theme of my life,” said Nusslock. “I chose to address it by research.”
The student speakers all spoke openly about the successes and setbacks they’ve faced as a result of their mental illnesses. They also detailed their diagnoses and how their symptoms developed.
“I think it’s important for people to understand the definitions of mental illnesses,” said Weinberg junior Emily Morimoto. “Depression is probably one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses.
Weinberg senior Miriam Mogilevsky echoed the sentiment. “It’s really just like any other illness,” she said. “It’s not that different.”
The crowd filled three-fourths of the forum. In a question-and-answer session with the audience afterwards, the panelists offered suggestions on how to help friends in difficult times. “Sometimes," said Mogilevsky, "I just want you to listen."