Today: May 29, 2024

‘Nation’s doctor’ talks student mental health

General talking to audience.

Sofia Rositani Editor-in-Chief

“Social connection and loneliness” was the theme of the night when US Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy spoke at the university with student panelists from New Haven universities an activity that brought everyone out of their chairs.   

“We were designed to connect with one another,” Murthy said.   

The event began with President Joe Bertolino speaking and introducing the guest speaker.   

“Dr. Murthy stresses that social connections are as vital to our health as food and water, and that is certainly true in a college environment. So, it’s fitting that we have a large group of students with us this evening from Southern, but also from Gateway Community College, Yale University and the University of New Haven,” Bertolino said. He then introduced the Dean of the college of Health and Human Services, Sandy Bulmer, who welcomed Murthy and talked about the new Health and Human Services building.   

“This is a week of celebrations for our college. As next Friday we will host a ribbon cutting ceremony for our new College of Health and Human Services building,” Bulmer said.   

Murthy thanks the crowd for being at the event before the activity began.   

“I know we’re all giving up something to be here. Maybe you would have been out having dinner with your friends,” Murthy said.   

He said that before the event he facetimed his wife and children.   

“I saw them, and I was like, I missed that, just being with the family but I see all of you and when we have conversations like this to me it’s worth it,” Murthy said. “To take that time away because we are investing in something that’s going to help my kids, your kids down the line and all of us to be better off, which is again by rebuilding and strengthening connection, community right here and all across America.”  

After Murthy spoke, there was an activity led by someone who works with Murthy. The activity was “a conversation on your feet” which involves those involved to pick one side that fits them the most. One of the questions was “night owl vs early bird” and they had to go left for night owl, middle for either or right for early bird. Murthy asked those a few questions from each side and then started the process all over again with a new question.   

Following the activity was a student panel that had four students from four different universities answering questions on mental health and social connections.   

“I know a lot of my peers aren’t very open in contacting people who are higher into the institution due to what backlash they can get or the lack of communication from those higher-up people. So, I feel like it’s very important for some togetherness so that we can bridge the gap between those two groups,” psychology major Mary Lippa, a senior from University of New Haven said.   

Once the panel ended Murthy invited Governor Ned Lamont to speak about mental health and connectedness in the state.   

“We made the biggest commitment to mental health in the history of the state. We have been providing mental health facilities in virtually every school that wants it,” Lamont said.   

Murthy said he has noticed 57 percent higher rates of suicide in the past 10 years, not counting the reservations, in America. There is a new crisis line, 988, and it is a line open all day every day for those who suffer with mental health issues and need support if they do not have a provider or need immediate help.   

“I leave here optimistic about our chances for doing better when it comes to youth mental health. Because not only was it clear that the students I met today were open and willing to talk about their mental health struggles, they were open with their struggles with loneliness and isolation,” Murthy said. “But they wanted to be part of a solution and some of them are working with legislators and legislation that actually help invest more in addressing mental health needs.”   

Photo Credits: Sarah Shelton

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