Alumni perform to promote good mental health. By Virginia Van de Wall ’12
Change in behavior, loss of appetite, disinterest in normal activities—these are signs of depression. Because college is such a huge transition, campus health care officials worldwide have observed that an increasing number of students are showing symptoms that indicate prolonged unhappiness. According to the national average, one in seven college students suffers from depression. However, many students tend to keep these feelings to themselves or find they aren’t getting sufficient help from friends and family. When this is the case, a counselor should be sought, but students often refrain from doing that because they fear it may make them look weak.
On March 4, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services teamed up with three student-run organizations — Active Minds; Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow; and First-Year Experience — to put on a free concert in order to increase knowledge of mental health and decrease the negative connotations many associate with talking to a counselor. Adam Day ’07 and Dan Mills ’07 returned to the College to perform at the Everyone Matters concert and help raise awareness of the counseling center, which is a free service for IC students.
“All it takes is feeling really down one time,” Day says. “You can come in and talk to someone for an hour, and it can make you feel a lot better about your weeks ahead, your years ahead. It can really put you in a different place.”
Day and Mills played a combination of folk music intertwined with pop-jazz while students volunteered to talk about their experiences at the counseling center. The audience tapped their feet and swayed their bodies to the melodic arrangements that Day and Mills performed acoustically and attentively listened to the students who were brave enough to share their stories. Free desserts were offered.
“I think it’s one thing if you see a sign or you talk to your resident assistant about mental health, but I hope that, as two graduates who have some insight about the college experience, we can act as liaisons and let people know it’s cool to get help,” Mills says. “College is stressful; do what you have to do.”
Sophomore Danny Gendron says that he initially planned to attend the event for the free food and good music. After realizing the performance was also about raising awareness for the counseling center, he was impressed. “I am much more prone to attend a concert promoting mental health than a lecture about it,” he says. “This was a great way to get the word out to students.”
LeBron Rankins, psychologist in the counseling center and organizer of the Everyone Matters concert, is confident that events like this will help the student population make decisions that will benefit their mental health.
“If we can increase sensitivity to mental health issues on campus and encourage dialogue among students about taking care of one’s mental health and accessing resources that are available, I am confident it will help minimize the likelihood that people are going to experience crisis in their lives,” Rankins says.