Scholar Creates Publication to Promote Mental Health Awareness
By Bethany George, sophomore
This year, senior Emily Nowels, a television-radio major, started a new literary arts publication on campus called, The Mirror Magazine. Nowels paired up with Active Minds, a club that aims to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness and increase the conversation surrounding mental health. The magazine serves as another avenue where students can openly discuss their experiences with mental illness.
Nowels's interest in creating the magazine began during her sophomore year. That year she had her own struggles with mental illness. These trials led her to join Active Minds, and express herself through writing. The support she received from the club and the peace that came from personal reflection in writing helped put Nowels's mind at ease again. She thought it would be valuable to have a campus-wide outlet for students with similar struggles.
During an Active Minds meeting, Nowels pitched her idea of creating a publication for student expression of their experiences with mental illness. The club thought the publication would be perfect to distribute after Speak Your Mind (SYM) panels. SYM panels are a group of 2-5 people who have familiarity with mental illnesses, and go into classrooms or meetings to provide an open floor discussion.
“The idea is that this magazine will literally be a physical manifestation of that conversation and students can take the conversation out of the room with them,” says Nowels.
The content of the magazine is submission based, ranging from fiction, non-fiction, poetry, to art and photography. All pieces will tell personal narratives surrounding the collective idea of mental health. Nowels says the magazine encouraged anyone to make a contribution. “We truly believe that while not everyone has mental illness, everyone has mental health,” she says.
In the original plans, the layout was going to be submissions only from Ithaca College students, but then The Mirror started receiving excellent pieces from Ithaca alumni. Additionally, a senior from Ithaca College who is a teacher’s assistant at Ithaca’s charter high school, New Roots, said he wanted to have a contest in his classroom in which the best piece could be published in The Mirror.
Nowels said that that is when she and the other Mirror editorial staff members realized that mental health is truly an inclusive issue that relates to everyone. Ultimately they decided to start with the New Roots piece, followed by the submissions from Ithaca College, and ending with a piece from a graduate student. Nowels said the editors are very pleased with this new layout because it truly exemplifies the idea of mental health being a life long process and commitment.
Recently, all of the content has been picked for the magazine, and the last details of design are being finished so that publishing can begin after break. “The Park Scholarship has given me the support that I needed to get this magazine off the ground,” said Nowels. A third of The Mirror’s staff is Park Scholars and she believes that if she didn't have this resource it would have been much harder to generate the magazine.