Katies break the Silence

Leah Spillane, '16, one of the leaders for Break the Silence.

Leah Spillane, ’16, one of the leaders for Break the Silence.

Have you ever felt anxious about something but can’t explain why?  Have you ever had a roommate who would spend an abnormal amount of time in bed and you weren’t sure what to do?  Come to Cornbread and Chili Night: Break the Silence, sponsored by MIPS (Multicultural and International Programs and Services) and Active Minds, a group on campus devoted to ending the stigma that too often comes with mental illness.

“[This Cornbread and Chili night is] a night designed around how to eliminate stigma [around mental illness] on campus,” said Leah Spillane ‘16, the Media Specialist for Active Minds and one of the people leading Break the Silence.

The evening will feature a speaker from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) as well as student speakers and representatives from on-campus associations such as Residence Life and the Counseling Center.  Those in attendance will not only have a chance to listen and learn from the experts who will be joining them, but they will also have a chance to discuss hypothetical scenarios in order to figure out what to do if they experience troubles or if someone close to them goes through a rough time.

“This night is good for everyone, whether or not they experience chronic mental illness,” Spillane said.

Break the Silence is meant to be a night for students to learn how to help themselves if they find it difficult to cope with strong feelings, but it’s also meant to be a night for the friends and support networks.  It’s helpful to have a friend to lean on who knows how they can help, even if they don’t fully understand what their friend is experiencing.

“It’s important to talk about mental health in a public place so that it’s not so scary,” Spillane said.  “That’s how we challenge the mental illness stigma.”

By talking about mental health in a safe space such as the Center for Women, no part of this ongoing conversation about mental health is off limits.  Everyone should feel equally comfortable speaking up, whether they’re experiencing stress over a fast-approaching exam or if their experience is a bit more serious and they require medical attention.  No one deserves to feel alone because there are many resources, even on campus, that are willing to help.

“It’s dangerous to not talk about mental health,” said Spillane.

Come for the delicious cornbread and chili, but stay for the discussion and advice from experts in our community.  Break the Silence will take place on Oct. 14th in Mendel 106 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.  All are welcome!

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