Panel of experts spoke on student mental health


Haljit BasuljevicReporter

A televised forum entitled Student Mental Health: Crucial Conversations in the Lyman Center, featuring a panel of five experts, gave extensive knowledge about the nature of mental health awareness.

In front of a largely-filled auditorium, local sports anchor and President of Finz Creative Programming Noah Finz moderated the discussion and asked a series of question based on each expert’s accompanying knowledge.

Many of the issues that impacted mental health amongst students pertained to culture.

Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, said social media leaves young adults—particularly women—in a state of distress due to negative social comparison, fear of missing out and social aggression.

“Young ladies are at [a] significantly [higher] risk for things like suicide or things like self-injury, “said Brackett, “while there is no conclusive evidence, it’s correlational, there is a very strong argument to suggest that social media has a detrimental impact.”

Kate Fagan, a former ESPN reporter and, said she agreed that between the pressure of performance and expectation, student athletes are dealing with these same mental health problems.

She said, from the outside, they could be seen as living a desirable lifestyle.

The discrepancy between how it seems and how it actually is, however, can lead students to question whether they loved their sport in the first place, she said.

“If you look at the data, with suicide being the second leading cause of death for 10 to 24-year-olds, that says something,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. “That’s something that requires we pay attention and think creatively about.”

The experts explored other facets that tie to these conditions, such as overbearing parents, socio-economic status and the rampant individualism that culture prides itself on.

Delphin-Rittmon said increasing awareness and access to services is needed. Director of Counseling Services Nick Pinkerton said Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be.

He said with critical thinking being the central core of the therapy, CBT can also be used throughout a person’s daily life as a source of empathy and challenging their own thoughts.

Near the end of the filming, members of the audience in the Lyman Center asked questions of the panelists. They ranged from finding resources on campus to the impending fear of a planetary disaster.

Shyra Fisher, freshman and biochemistry major, as well as one of the members of the audience who asked a question, said the discussion made her feel enlightened.

“It made me smile,” said Fisher.

University of Hartford Director of Counseling Services Jeff Burda agreed with the panel that there is a challenge of being ostracized when one is known to have mental health problems.

“There can be a sense of ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps,’ ‘go it alone.’ ‘I’m fine and that can be reflected in social media’. ‘I don’t need anyone’. Until you do need someone,” said Burda. “So, sometimes I think it takes young people to wait ‘til the crisis point to reach out for help.”

Photo Credit: Will Aliou

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