Active Minds hosted annual JCK Foundation event


Sofia RositaniReporter

Active Minds hosted their annual JCK Foundation presentation, Monday, Sept. 30. The group has been hosting this every year since 2016.

The JCK Foundation was formed because the founder’s best friend, John Cleaver Kelly, lost his life in his battle with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

John Tessitore and Mike Esposito started the presentation with an ice breaker: the attendees had to throw their piece of paper into a box that said yes or no on them in response to questions about mental health.

Once the ice breaker ended, those who attended were put in three different groups and had to present answers to the questions they were given, which ranged from “why does mental health matter?” to “how is
mental health viewed in your community?”

“We do really believe in the power of a group, because everyone’s collective story is more powerful than an individual story; they come together that way.” Esposito said.

Tessitore said he thinks it is positive that there are production groups that hire consultants to garner an understanding of mental illnesses in order to portray them correctly in film. He said Joaquin
Phoenix, who played the titular character, had watched and listened to people with mental illnesses prior to getting casted for research purposes.

“I think that is problematic when it’s such a violent movie,” he said, “and I think, like, that will be very entertaining, but I don’t think it does anything positive with mental health.”

Counseling Services graduate intern Mary Xatse attended the event and said there is a rise in loneliness for people in counseling.

“We know of different people sharing, ‘I just did this,’ or, ‘I did that,’ but no one actually feels known,” Xatse said. “People you might not even think couldn’t be affected by it could be affected by it.”

As the co-directors of he JCK Foundation, Tessitore and Esposito work alongside each other to inspire and empower those with mental illnesses and
to raise awareness for mental health. They will return spring 2020 for another event brought by Active Minds.

“I think people are more comfortable with the idea of mental health, but I don’t think stepping in a therapist’s office has become that much less stigmatized,” Tessitore said.

“I think it’s become more in the fashion of sharing a story, but it hasn’t translated to formal help.”

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