Art With Impact put on a program to facilitate conversation around mental health struggles in the Student Center recently.

The event, titled “Movies for Mental Health,” showed three films regarding mental health and held an open panel about the issues highlighted in them.

As a primarily online organization, Art With Impact promotes mental wellness through media and art. This is the second Movies for Mental Health event on campus, and is one event in a series of initiatives scheduled for this semester by the Student Health Center.

The initiative was organized by the health center and is offering workshops such as the Substance Abuse Awareness fair on Nov. 12 and Kognito, an online suicide prevention program for students. These workshops were founded by the Director of Mental Health Services Larry Valentine and are designed to create a safe space for open conversations in a non-confrontational way.

The event on Oct. 22 began with an explanation about what mental wellness is and denounced the belief that mental wellness and mental health are on opposite ends of a spectrum.

Audience participation was encouraged on various topics such as the way mental illness is portrayed in media and how the concept of mental health differs by culture. The distinction between stigmas and stereotypes was also discussed as different notions that have varied effects on those struggling with mental illness.

The films were winning submissions for the Art With Impact OLIVE Film Collection. The first, the April 2019 winner called “Visualizing Lies,” was a spoken word poem that followed the beginning, middle, and end of a day as someone dealing with depression and anxiety.

The next winning film, “Autobiography of a Body,” focuses on the societal treatment of overweight children. The narrator tells about the pressure to make jokes about his weight and make light of his treatment, while eating unhealthily became a coping mechanism for him.

The third film, “Release” shifts the focus to a middle school demographic with the theme of coping mechanisms being paralleled by children’s dependence on external gratification through social media.

All three films used unconventional narrative structures to convey their message while also offering a unique perspective on their mental struggles.

The Movies for Mental Health event closed with a panel of student who spoke about their own mental health experiences.

One student panelist, nutrition major Toranj Tourchian, spoke of her condition during her father’s battle with cancer. Another student panelist, philosophy major Bobby Pyle, was approached by a counselor to share a bit of his story as well.

A health educator in the Student Health Center, Janice Iglesias, talked about the motivation for the event.

“We wanted the students to connect with each other and have those open conversations about mental health,” Iglesias said.

As the person responsible for developing and implementing health promotion initiatives and campus outreach programs, Iglesias’ duties are crucial to promoting the many mental health programs available on campus.

These programs include acute medical care for students as well.

“That would include injuries, colds, flus, as well as the prevention piece, which includes different initiatives like the free flu vaccine clinics in the fall,” Iglesias said.

Mental health services include unlimited short term therapy as well as crisis counseling all at no cost to students.

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