Can you hear me?


Nick McAdam, Sports Editor

There are around 25 people in the Donahue Auditorium on March 3 at 4 p.m. for the start of the Mental Health Monologues. It’s certainly not packed compared to how much the auditorium can hold but maybe this is a good thing.

Some people are there for a class. Some people are with Active Minds. Some people are professors or faculty. Like most lectures, everybody sits separately from each other unless they know someone. It’s an awkward tension but little do these people know that whatever their ‘label’ is, they are simply about to exist. We’re going to see people as people.

The funk music cuts, it’s time. There are some stragglers that are coming into the event late but for this event, that’s fine.

Statistics from Johns Hopkins Medicine show that mental health disorders account for the top causes of disability in the U.S. According to the organization, 26% of Americans suffer from a diagnosed mental disorder during any given year. Most who commit suicide, according to Hopkins Medicine, suffer from a depressive or substance abuse disorder.

Stats matter, but stories matter, too. While statistics lump us into groups, the Mental Health Monologues focus on the individual. We get to discuss mental health, something that seems to drift away from us in our daily lives.

It’s finally about the stories. It’s about self. It’s about being heard.

Here we go. The event is about to start. It’s so silent that one in the front row can hear flipping pages from the rows in the back. Regardless of the silence, everybody has a story or is thinking of their story that somebody can relate to in the crowd.

All of what’s written prior is what was observed within 30 short minutes of attending the Mental Health Monologues. Conversation strikes something of importance in seconds and the stories start to take you away. 

The event’s platform for conversation on mental health gave not only the organization a purpose for holding the event but the individual a purpose for sharing where they come from and what they have gone through.

“I wanted to create an environment where people can talk about their stories and learn from each other’s experiences regarding mental health-related topics that they want to bring awareness to,” Active Minds President Mercedes Steele said. “I wanted to have a safe space where people know what they say will be in a nonjudgmental environment.” 

Steele emailed the campus to inquire about any interested speakers for the event. Those speakers would get ten minutes to share their thoughts with questions following if allowed.

“We want to promote mental health awareness on campus and within the community in order to break the stigma on mental health,” Steele said. “We hope that this event will help people feel more comfortable talking about mental health in the future.”

Junior Frank Bianco ended my experience with the event. He’s the last speaker I listen to. He walks to the center stage and fidgets with those orange water bottles given during first-year orientation. Every time Bianco takes a drink, he removes the lid.

“You never get a good sip out of the mouthpiece,” Bianco said. “You have to open it up.”

Maybe he’s saying this in a comedic sense but the quote stuck with me after the event. I don’t know why but it just does. 

Maybe we don’t get the full experience unless we open something up.