By Lauren Coronado
Cal Poly Pomona invited “Art With Impact” to host an event regarding mental health and illnesses on Tuesday night.
Art With Impact is a mental health organization with the mission to connect people to global issues through art and media and provide opportunities to share their voices, time and talent in meaningful ways.
Skye Christensen, facilitator of Art With Impact, was the main speaker for the event. The workshop introduced three videos each followed by a discussion. Students shared why they thought the video was relevant, how it made them feel and what their thoughts were towards the video. Art With Impact believes that mental health education is important to address during college because of the age group that students are in.
“The reason we’re at colleges is that mental health or mental illness is statistically known to onset and become most prevalent at 16-24,” said Christensen. “That is the age that is most critical to address for early intervention. [Students are] really experiencing what mental illness can look like for the first time. We know people that maybe had struggles growing up as kids but when they turned 19 or 20 suddenly there was this explosion of problems, mental health issues, family and personal life struggles that come into play, which is very common.”
Christensen encourages all students to come to mental health events.
“What we want to do is erase the stigma of coming to these events, because sometimes people think, ‘oh I don’t have a problem, so I don’t need to hear this,’ but the reality is that you might not be struggling or dealing with a mental illness now, but that doesn’t mean that you never will in your life,” said Christensen.
“So knowing that there are resources now, and knowing that there are things to be aware of and good ways to handle mental illness is ideal. There are people in our lives who we love and care about who are struggling or who might need help or who do have mental health issues that need to be supported, and we can be better friends and family members if we are able to talk about it.
“This event is also designed to help people feel comfortable about where they are and to make them feel like they can advocate for themselves.”
Elizabeth Owens, clinical director of Tri-City Medical Center in Pomona, was also a panel spokesman and shared her personal story about mental illness and answered questions from the audience.
“There is a difference between mental health and mental illness,” said Owens “Mental health is how you’re doing on a daily basis, how you’re doing with life challenges. Are you able to seek help and talk about your issues? Are you exercising? Getting the right amount of sleep?
“It may require support from a professional. It may require that you be medicated. I would encourage students if there is anything you feel like talking about, it is always good to address it with someone.”
Madison McCracken, a second-year food and nutrition student, attended Tuesday’s event and explained why she felt that the event was a success.
“I believe that this is a great program,” said McCracken. “It’s a really important topic for me. It definitely helps people who don’t really understand what mental health is and how it affects people’s lives.
“Everyone is affected in one way or another, whether it’s your family, a friend, or yourself. This offers resources and a better understanding of that person who is hurting.”
The event offered time for sharing and networking, as students stayed after the event to learn more about mental health programs and clubs on and around campus.
“We focus on art as being a cathartic and powerful way to tell stories and to discuss issues that are difficult to talk about,” said Christensen. “We connect art to action and find films that are persuasive to do that. We work on stigma reduction.”
Jairo Pineda / The Poly Post
Art with Impact
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