This past November 4-6, Active Minds held its annual Mental Health on Campus Conference (#MHCC16) at Sacramento State University; what a great way to end the year! Several members of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau gave presentations during the weekend, and we were fortunate to have three of their talks recorded; Jordan Burnham, Colleen Coffey and Juliana Kerrest all spoke about their own personal struggles with mental health issues.
Jordan told of his difficulty early in life with feeling like he didn’t fit in, and of trying to hide his insecurities by using alcohol. He described living his life behind a mask that showed a happy, confident and popular kid on the outside while behind that fake smile lived a different person who doubted himself and his abilities. Jordan’s suicide attempt
illuminated his struggles, and opened avenues toward healing.
Colleen shared her life story of growing up in a family that provided material needs but failed to recognize that their young daughter was suffering extreme anxiety, depression and disordered eating. Only when she grew older and realized that she was empowered to break the cycle of panic attacks and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder herself was she able to reach out for help.
Juliana revealed a history of battling depression, anxiety and self-harm, locked in a pattern that repeated itself year after year, leaving her exhausted and hopeless. Although a good student, she found herself struggling to keep up with schoolwork, friendships and everyday tasks. Treatment for Bipolar II Disorder has given her renewed faith in herself and her ability to succeed even when it seems most difficult.
These presenters all give us lots to think about in terms of how we view ourselves and others, and how we can project the image we most want people to see. They talk frankly about their own painful efforts to live and cope with their mental health conditions, and describe the ups and downs that frame them.
They also show us that there is hope for healing, and that with time, patience and work—often very HARD work—it’s possible to find and choose proper treatment.
So, it’s a new semester and a new year; what are you going to do differently? What changes are you going to make in your life, and in the lives of others? What good habits, attitudes, values or beliefs are you going to carry over from last year into the future? What disappointments, misconceptions and negative patterns or behaviors will you leave behind?
How are you going to help spread awareness about mental well-being and suicide prevention on your campus? Why not bring an Active Minds Speakers Bureau presenter to your college community to share their real-world lived experience with mental illness, diagnosis, treatment and recovery? You and your fellow-students will be amazed at how connected you’ll feel to your speaker while listening to stories about dysfunction that could happen to anyone.
Get in touch with the Active Minds Speakers Bureau staff today to learn how to host an AMSB speaker; create change on your campus that will have a lasting impact!
firstname.lastname@example.org 202-332-9595 ext. 102