Mental illness affects millions of people, but it can carry a stigma. Films and discussions on this issue took place in BC’s Fireside Room for Art with Impact: Movies for Mental Health on Oct. 17.
Leslie Poston, Movies for Mental Health Facilitator, presented three short films that consisted of stories of people with mental illness followed by open discussions. Lastly, a panel of people with mental illness and mental health professionals ended the event.
“Our mission with Art with Impact is to destigmatize mental health, especially on college campuses where students [may be] in crisis,” Poston said.
Stigma towards mental health is defined as a negative judgement and a stereotype that “takes away individuality.”
“At Art with Impact, we don’t believe mental illness and mental wellness are opposing ends of the spectrum. Mental illness and mental wellness are a part of mental health,” Poston said after being asked how they distinguish mental health and mental illness.
Poston asked for the audience’s descriptions of people with mental illness that are portrayed in society. “Crazy,” “deranged,” and “misunderstood” were some of the answers that they provided for Poston.
After those discussions, Poston finally presented the three short films of mental illness victims. The films were titled “Gladys,” “Sal Tran,” and “Little Elizabeth.”
“Gladys” was about an undocumented woman with depression who was verbally abused by her husband. She eventually accepted help for her daughter and got a visa.
“Sal Tran” described a Vietnamese transgender woman who was bullied because of gender identity. The bullying affected her mental health to the point that she attempted suicide three times. Meditating and finding others like her helped her.
“Little Elizabeth” shared the story of a young woman who “heard a voice in her head” that told her she wouldn’t even make it through the day and that she should just stop. She learned to accept the voice when she realized it was just her former self when she was 4-years-old as a foster child. Taylor Jensen
“As a kid you get blamed when you try to talk to your parents because they say you have everything you need materialistically. They expect you to be happy for what you have but it’s more than things you can just touch,” attendee Pamela Harris said in the following discussion.
Poston explained why Art with Impact utilizes films for their events.
“Films are a very effective medium to reach people because they can relate to them. We’ve found films affective for bringing up emotions and demonstrating mental health issues,” Poston said.
To end the event, a panel was introduced. There were two BC students who shared their own personal stories and then there were three counselors who spoke of the help that’s available.
“If you are struggling with anything or stuck academically and you can’t understand why you can’t get through what you want to get through, come by and talk to us. It’s what we’re here for,” said Dave Seymour, a counselor at the BC Student Health and Wellness Center.