NAMI-UA hosts 7th annual Mental Health Monologues

The Ferguson Student Center Theatre was filled close to capacity as NAMI-UA, the University's chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, hosted its 7th annual Mental Health Monologues event on Monday night. The show consisted of volunteer actors performing anonymously submitted monologues from UA students and faculty about their personal struggles with mental illnesses.

The monologues covered a range of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, obsessive- compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder.

Helmi Henkin, a sophomore double majoring in psychology and French, was a volunteer actor in the Mental Health Monologues event and is also the public relations officer for NAMI-UA. She has been involved with NAMI-UA since her freshman year in high school and her personal experiences and career aspirations have driven her passion for mental health.

"I think whether someone has personal experience or not, [they] would really benefit from hearing these stories because they come from [people with] such diverse backgrounds," Henkin said. "There is going to be something that hits home to them. This cause really does effect everyone."

Rex Perkins, a staff therapist at the University's Counseling Center, conducted a Q&A session during the event as well. He defined the Counseling Center's abilities and offered numerous ways for students to reach out for help.

Lindsey Young, a senior majoring in public relations, attended the NAMI-UA event because her friend was working in it, but she also has personal experiences with mental illness.

"I thought it was really inspiring, and it was very genuine to hear people's real life experiences about how they suffered, a lot of times, in silence," Young said. "It was inspiring to hear them come forward, even if it was anonymously, to inspire others to get help and know that it does get better."

Following the monologue performances, Maddy Ellis, President of NAMI-UA and a senior majoring in public relations, announced NAMI-UA's new list of demands for the University to increase funding for and awareness about the epidemic of suicide and mental health crises.

The demands consist of improved mental health crises training for resident and faculty advisors, commitment of additional resources to the Counseling Center, and that the academic calendar reflects a concern for mental health.

"We've had at least three students take their own lives this semester," Ellis said. "It's time something happens."

Ellis said the policy change proposal was a recent decision made by NAMI-UA in response to the two UA students that were lost to suicide within a week of each other. She acknowledged the resources that the Counseling Center provides and said she hopes people will feel more comfortable with finding help.
"I want everyone to know that it's okay if you're dealing with any kind of mental illness," Ellis said. "It's going to get better. It's not going to stay this way forever and all you have to do is reach out and talk to somebody about it." 

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