The Charles Drew Minority Pre-Health Society, in collaboration with several multicultural organizations, hosted a student-led discussion on the topic of mental health in the minority community as part of their Charles Drew Memorial Week.
The club has hosted one educational event every day this week in memory of African-American physician Charles Drew. The event itself, located in University Union 206, was titled “Ignorance is Not Bliss.” It was an opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding of the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding mental illnesses.
Mmekom Udosen, the president of the society and a junior double-majoring in Africana studies and integrative neuroscience, said the event was a good chance to bring to light a topic that doesn’t get as much publicity as it should.
“Mental health is a state of well-being, but mental health issues in themselves are stigmatized and even more so in minority communities,” Udosen said. “I think it’s important for us to come together and talk about these issues because it’s something we don’t talk about on a day-to-day basis. If we don’t talk about it, how are we going to find solutions for it?”
Approximately 60 students attended the event and participated in the discussion. Organizers opened the floor to attendees so they could offer their opinions on why mental health issues are stigmatized in minority communities.
Damali Lambert, a senior majoring in English, expressed her discontent with how mental health is often overlooked.
“Mental health is something that is often neglected,” Lambert said. “It’s something we need to address especially in minority communities, because we’re taught to always act strong and like we’re okay with everything and anything. If we display any signs of mental weakness, we’re quickly shamed and that’s simply not right.”
Angela Riley, the assistant dean of experiential education at Binghamton University, sat in on the discussion to offer her support and advice to students.
“Harpur’s Ferry has recorded the most responses to student breakdowns already this early in the semester,” Riley said. “People are resorting to different mechanisms to try to support, sustain and maintain what they deem a normal lifestyle, and that’s scary.”
Riley added that building a strong network among friends was necessary so that students could best help each other.
“At the end of the day, you guys are your best support for each other; be brothers and sisters to each other,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what the color of your brother or sister is, but if you start to notice things, some differences, you pull that person and say, ‘Hey, I’m worried about you,’ and that can be the beginning of something great.”