FMU’s Student Government Association (SGA) hosted “A New State of Mind” on Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Cauthen Educational Media Center for Mental Health Awareness Week.
SGA invited students to come out and discuss mental health issues and stigmas with a panel of four different people with various backgrounds and experiences with mental health.
The panel consisted of Rebecca Lawson, director of counseling and testing, Kellianne Dailey, general manager of Ervin Dining Hall, Sam Frye, Florence District One counselor and Anyssa Castro, president of the psychology club.
SGA secretary Aaron Simmons and SGA liaison Hunter Britt began the discussion by asking the panelists what the most significant barrier most people face when deciding to be more open about their mental health problems was.
Dailey discussed the journey her daughter went through when she admitted she was struggling with depression. She came as a mother who had cared for her daughter who struggled with mental health.
Dailey told the audience that her daughter had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, anxiety and ADHD. She explained how she helped her get treatment instead of ignoring her.
“Now we have a hold on it,” Dailey said. “It no longer has a hold on us.”
Dailey admitted that at first, she thought the changes she was seeing in her daughter were a part of normal teenage behavior.
“I had never had a teenager before so I was learning too,” Dailey said.
Dailey told the students that you have to acknowledge the problem in order to get help.
“It’s not easy to admit that you are not okay,” Castro said. “So, you can’t be the kind of person that calls someone crazy for confiding in you about how they feel.”
Frye said he moved around a good bit in his profession but found his niche helping children with mental health issues.
The discussion got intense and students in the audience started to really get engaged when the panelists started to talk about suicide.
“The suicide rate is dangerously rising in schools,” Frye said.
Simmons then asked the panelists what measures universities should take to better accommodate and support students facing mental instability.
“Suicide is a scary thing to deal with and face, but our university has leaned towards making it known that students should talk about how they feel,” Lawson said.
Sophomore Makayla O’Neal, a graphic art design major, was really interested in how a child can cope with mental health.
“We always talk a lot about how parents can help their children,” O’Neal said. “But as kids how do we help our parents if they have mental health issues?”
Castro told O’Neal that it starts with making children more aware of what mental health is in a way they can understand.
At the end of the discussion, students got the chance to go up and talk personally with the panelists.