By Michelle Lampariello
The College’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) hosted its annual Stigmonologues on Monday, Nov. 7, to raise awareness for mental health and to reduce the stigma surrounding it.
Students gathered in the Decker Social Space to hear nine speakers share their journeys with mental health.
Speakers detailed their struggles and paths to recovery. Still, they acknowledged that the amounting societal pressures and stigmas can inhibit many of the mentally ill from receiving the care and acceptance they deserve.
“I hope we get to live in a society where people look at mental health the same way people look at asthma,” said EJ Paras, a junior marketing major.
A few speakers compared mental illness to physical injury to describe the pressure placed on the mentally ill to behave as if nothing is wrong.
“When you break your leg, you put a cast on it,” said Kevin Hurler, a junior physics major. “But when you have depression, you smile and you get over it.”
The pressure to pretend as if everything is fine is not only inflicted by society, speakers said. Family members and close friends of the mentally ill often react to the stigma surrounding mental illness, as well.
“The boy (my parents) thought had his life on track, all of a sudden his thoughts spiral out of control,” Paras said. “My mom initially wished I had diabetes rather than bipolar disorder.”
Student speakers said a significant step toward acceptance and tolerance is understanding that those who suffer from mental illness are far from alone in their struggles.
“You are not alone in how you feel,” said Alvin Tran, a freshman psychology major. “If you look to your left and to your right, I guarantee you one of these people is willing to be the ear to listen.”
While society continues to question the validity of mental illness, the speakers said that it does not matter what others thinks. Mental illness is a pressing issue facing many Americans — it cannot be ignored.
“I have depression, and I don’t care who believes me,” Hurler said.
Although it may be daunting to start a conversation about mental illness, junior biology major Anna Torchiano highlighted the importance of speaking up and raising awareness for mental health issues.
“Allow us to continue the conversation about mental illness in order to end the stigma,” Torchiano said. “To all those who have any kind of mental illness, please don’t be afraid to speak up. The secrets I just shared with you are the secrets you and a surprisingly large number of people have.”
Although many people struggle with mental illness, speakers said it doesn’t make them lesser than anyone else.
“I may be ripped at every edge, but I’m still a masterpiece,” Hurler said.