Campos to examine suicide and anxiety

Active Minds speaker Pablo Campos will come to Vassar on Feb. 23 to discuss his own personal struggle with anxiety and depression. He hopes to make students aware of their support networks. Photo courtesy of Active Minds Blog
Active Minds speaker Pablo Campos will come to Vassar on Feb. 23 to discuss his own personal struggle with anxiety and depression. He hopes to make students aware of their support networks. Photo courtesy of Active Minds Blog
Active Minds speaker Pablo Campos will come to Vassar on Feb. 23 to discuss his own personal struggle with anxiety and depression. He hopes to make students aware of their support networks. Photo courtesy of Active Minds Blog

Suicide is a serious matter and often times we can’t grasp what goes through someone’s head when they make such a grave action. Si­multaneously, there are moments when people feel isolated, as if no­body understands them or what they might be going through, be it family trouble, mental illness or anything that might be left unspo­ken. In his upcoming lecture Pablo Campos will give us an idea of how to provide greater sympathy and understanding. In addition, Campos lecture hopes to cover some of the opportunities and help people in need can receive.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Pablo Cam­pos, a survivor of attempted suicide will be giving a lecture for Active Minds at 7:30 p.m. in Rocky 200. This lecture is brought to Vassar’s cam­pus by a collaboration between The Listening Center (TLC), the ALANA Center, the Black Student Union (BSU) and the Office of Health Ed­ucation. Campos has suffered from anxiety and depression and hopes to use these experiences to help guide the lecture.

Born in Virginia to Guatemalan parents, Campos had to balance belonging to two sep­arate cultures while struggling with his men­tal health. Without a healthy way of coping, Campos developed a substance abuse problem and made an attempt on his life at the end of high school. He then struggled in facilities for depression and addiction treatments with lit­tle success. Eventually, he was diagnosed with ADHD, which allowed him to reconfigure his method of treatment.

Since those days, Campos has become a pub­lic speaker, advocating for Active Minds, and is almost eight years sober. Because of all that he had to endure, Campos’s lecture offers a great opportunity to hear from someone who has been able to overcome such pain.

Explaining how Campos’s experience can help those struggling with mental health issues, Director of Health Education Renee Pabst said, “Our hope that students who feel alone in their struggle with mental health issues, whichev­er those issues may be and especially around depression/suicidal realize they are not alone, that there are services and support for them. The speakers from Active Minds have been at the point where they felt alone and no hope and their stories demonstrate that things will get better through seeking support and counseling.”

One of the subjects Campos will be talking about is the effects of being the child of immi­grants had on his mental health. Speaking about the effect this can have, Director of Psycho­logical Services at Baldwin Wendy Freedman, Ph.D., said, “For students from marginalized backgrounds, navigating the complexities of an oppressive society can contribute to significant stress which at times leads to psychological struggle. The Counseling Service staff works to help reduce the stigma of mental health con­cerns so that all students can access support.”

Active Minds is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the destigmatization of mental health among students to give them the em­powerment to seek help when they need it. There are numerous chapters on campuses na­tionwide advocating open conversations about these subjects. The organization was founded by Alison Malmon in 2003 after her brother committed suicide. Created with the intent to let students feel safe when bringing up top­ics of mental health like depression and anxi­ety, Active Minds has expanded itself over the last 13 years in the fight to benefit the lives of young adults across the country. Recently, the organization has focused on researching the mental health of college students of color, a demographic that hasn’t received a significant amount of attention in the past.

In an article from December 2012 on The Huffington Post, Founder and Executive Direc­tor Alison Malmon, speaking on the necessity discussions on mental health are communally, remarked, “[W]e need to start talking about these things not because of a lone man who caused unbelievable pain to our nation, but be­cause one in four American adults live with a diagnosable mental health disorder like depres­sion, anxiety, eating disorders and post-trau­matic stress every single day. And we need to start talking about it because of the approxi­mately 100 people in our country every day who feel so hopeless and helpless that they take their own lives leaving families and communities in anguish.”

“We hope that mental health awareness events do numerous things,” Pabst said about the importance of safe spaces for such a seri­ous topic. “[We hope it] takes away the stigma of mental health issues, aids students in seek­ing services and support–especially students who may have other barriers in reaching out for help, [and] aid students in general raise aware­ness to the community on how to provide a safe and supportive environment for our students.”

Here at Vassar, there are many options avail­able to students. Lectures like Campos’s are happening all the time on campus. Resources like TLC and CARES give students the oppor­tunity to speak to someone non-judgmentally and anonymously about any problems they feel might be affecting them. Within the Office of Health Education are wellness peer educators who can provide more information and help on health and wellness topics.

Wellness peer educator and one of the or­ganizers of this lecture Otuwe Anya ’18 said about the benefits these lectures can have, “I believe that hearing stories and associating an individual with a mental health issue does help demystify it. It brings a separation between a mental illness as a foreign intangible concept to become no longer something but someone. Therefore, changing the scope of understand­ing and approach. Thus, knowing someone who deals with these issues makes it more real, and it also may give strength to individuals dealing with similar issues to seek assistance.”

Despite the amount of resources that college campuses have or can refer students to, there is an overwhelming stigma that the words “mental health” and “depression” have. In many ways, these phrases have a great deal of vulnerabili­ty in them, a part of us that we cannot control and therefore see as a weakness. But no one can be happy if they’re not healthy. The more these things are ignored, the worse their problems become. Mental health is a constant focus in our everyday lives and it deserves the attention. Many are afraid of asking for help because of the perceived repercussions, but trying to get better is really the only way to actually get bet­ter.

Stating the overall effect discussions such as Campos’s can have on Vassar’s students, Freed­man said, “Speaking openly about these experi­ences reduces stigma and shame, and hopefully encourages students to reach out for support. Survivors can also lend hope to students who are struggling, helping them to recognize that things can get better with support and time.”

One Comment

  1. —The Counseling Service staff works to help reduce the stigma of mental health concerns

    Reduce the stigma?!!

    The counseling staff cooperates with claims of “stigma”. How sad.

    The Women’s Movement did not. cooperate with claims of rape/stigma. They lent it no credence whatsoever and told us unequivocally to stop doing so.

    http://flpic.org/advocacy-for-language

    Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

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