The final event of Mental Health Awareness Week — the 2017 Mental Health Panel — was held on Thursday at the University of Michigan Union, with the help from the student-run National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health Task Force and the LSA Student Government.
Four women spoke at the panel about their own struggles with mental illness, the importance of seeking help and how the University can improve on helping those suffering.
Public Policy senior Melanie Wellstein, president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, was the main facilitator of the panel event.
“We all know someone who has been affected by mental illness,” she said. “But the more we talk about these issues and bring them to administration, the more we will be able to change things at the University of Michigan.”
According to a survey sent out last year from the Mental Health Task Force, 96 percent of student respondents feel that mental health should be accommodated on a college campus, but 74 percent do not feel comfortable addressing their concerns with faculty.
Many of the panelists spoke about what they had read at the Mental Health Monologues, an event in the spring on mental health. The first panelist to speak was fifth-year senior Abigail Nutter, who spoke about feeling guilty getting help and being “on the fence” about having a mental illness.
“When you don’t have a diagnosis, you feel like you don’t need to look for help or other people need it more,” she said.
LSA senior Lauren Quinlan later shared a poem she wrote about waiting all day to get into an intensive care unit in the emergency room.
“Einstein had proved that time is relative, and it has never felt so than the time that I spent 24 hours, one day, in the emergency room,” she read. She emphasized it should be easier for people to get help in other settings.
Tom Kal, a resident adviser and faculty at the School of Social Work, shared his reason for attending the event and the value he places on mental health. He discussed how his daughter had been dealing with chronic depression and his brother had been hospitalized and professionals never knew what to do.
Kal believes there are two things people who are suffering from illness should do; first, get professional care and second, find others who are going through similar situations.
Panelist Marissa Stringer, an LSA senior, spoke about receiving her ADHD diagnosis and understanding her illness was legitimate.
“The answers to my problems can’t be found on a Google search,” she said.
To conclude the panel, Wellstein made a personal statement about her experience with mental illness. After being diagnosed with PTSD at age 18, she felt like it was important knowing she needed help before starting college.
In response to how the resources at the University can help those suffering, Quinlan said, “We need to pay more attention to CAPS and facilitate more of a conversation about it.”
LSA senior Julia Winkler said she attended the panel to learn about helping her friends who are suffering with mental health issues.
“(I came to the talk) to absorb perspectives that I don’t normally have, so that I could be better as a friend,” Winkler said.
When asked about giving advice to people struggling with mental illness, Wellstein said, “It sounds really cliche, but I think there aren’t enough people talking about this.”