By Carley Crain
To kick off the start of mental health awareness week, the multicultural affairs office hosted a ‘Movies for Mental Health’ virtual workshop which was attended by Springfield College students, staff, alumni, and students or teachers from neighboring schools and states.
The session was facilitated by poet and humanist, Natalie Patterson, as well as a panel with Springfield student Kate English, staff psychologist Paige Getchell, and senior director of the YMCA Chad Nico Hiu.
Patterson started off the workshop by posing a series of questions about self-care and created a dialogue about different activities that can help manage stress, anxiety, and depression.
The chat box flooded with different ideas from the audience of how they individually practice self-care. Patterson continued the discussion based conversation by speaking about the media portrayal of mental health, the stigma surrounding mental health, and how culture plays a role in mental wellbeing.
Some of the audience shared their own mental health experiences, as the chat box served as an open and safe environment to speak up and to be honest.
“Mental health is personal – you are the expert on your own experience and I own and acknowledge that I have mental health and wellness,” said facilitator Natalie Patterson.
Not only did this virtual workshop create and encourage open and honest discussion, Patterson also shared her own advice about connecting the body to the mind through breathing exercises and body scan. Patterson had the audience engage in these practices throughout the workshop.
“Movies for mental health taught me a lot regarding mental well-being. We had a dynamic conversation in which I was exposed to new practices of self-care and management of my mental emotions,” said junior Aly Coyle.
The virtual workshop also included three short films that featured different types of mental illnesses. The first feature film was based on the personal story of Karen Hua who dealt with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), social anxiety, and bulimia when growing up. This film was definitely hard for some to watch as it attacked these issues head on, but made the audience feel comfortable sharing their own stories.
The second feature film followed the story of Sal Tran, who is a sexual assault and suicide survivor. This film was very emotional and personal, but opened the door for some serious and difficult conversations.
The last film was about professional hockey player Kelly Hrudey, who suffered anxiety and depression when he was playing goalie as part of the Canadian National Hockey League.
He discussed the stigma surrounding men opening up about their mental health struggles, as well as how many athletes suffer from anxiety and depression. His story resonated with many since athletics is such a huge aspect of the Springfield College atmosphere.
“The short films exposed me to the realities of a variety of mental illnesses,” said Coyle. “Overall, this series was very empowering and provoked meaningful conversations.”
The virtual workshop concluded with a question and answer session with the panelists, where they went into even more detail about their personal mental health struggles.
With mental health awareness week in full swing, remember you are never alone and to reach out for help if needed.
Photo Courtesy of the Office of Multicultural Affairs