Office of Health Promotion fosters mental health discussion
Assistant Director of Health Promotion Samantha Smith spoke about mental health event to attendees. Health Promotion is part of UMBC University Health Services, which can be found in Erickson Hall. Photo by Brent Bemiller.

Office of Health Promotion fosters mental health discussion

Many groups at UMBC put a priority on ending the stigma that surrounds mental health by hosting events that revolve around open and honest discussion between students. One such event was hosted by the Office of Health Promotion, a branch of University Health Services.

This event was the screening of a short documentary on mental health, depression and suicide among American college students. The screening was then followed by a conversation in which the topics of the documentary were discussed along with ideas on relating the documentary to campus life.

The documentary, titled “It’s Real,” was produced by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, a partner of UMBC. The film showcases many different perspectives of college students dealing with a variety of mental health issues with a primary focus on depression and suicide.

Psychology major and senior Hulon Morgan said, “I think it’s great that it relates to [college students]. It makes us aware of mental illness and that it can happen to anyone.” The video also gave students a chance to reflect on their own mental health by, in the words of Morgan, “humanizing mental illnesses.”

Also on the video, Samantha Smith, the Assistant Director of Health Promotion, said, “We have a picture of what depression looks like. This video shows that it can be any one person on this campus.”

The video takes the veil off of the stigma that surrounds mental health and depression. Poulomi Banerjee, the Marketing Assistant for the Office of Health Promotion, says that the video has, “real stories of mental health and depression. It happens in different ways.”

Banerjee also said, “it’s great to see the different perspectives [of students], knowing the diversity of this campus.” UMBC is a diverse campus and the short film hits on diversity very strongly by showing a wide variety of students affected by mental health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts.

During the open discussion, speakers emphasized that the conversation would be respectful, open and honest. Those involved in the conversation delivered on that. Everyone who participated was able to be open with the rest of the group.

Those who spoke were able to share deeply personal experiences without any fear of judgment from the other attendees. The topics of discussion revolved around a variety of topics including support groups, how to cope with mental health issues, how to help others and how to involve the campus in the conversation on mental health.

The Office of Health Promotion is constantly putting on events that center on physical, sexual and mental health. These events are focused around the drive to promote a healthy and open environment on campus.