Virtual mental health conference discusses black college experience, grief and seeking help

Virtual mental health conference discusses black college experience, grief and seeking help
Virtual mental health conference discusses black college experience, grief and seeking help

Unapologetically Free virtual conference featuring the Black college experience, the grieving process, and knowing when to seek mental health help.Dr. Meag-gan O'ReillyDr. Meag-gan O’Reilly

The two-day event, hosted by the United Negro College Foundation (UNCF), the Steve Foundation and the Thurgood Marshall College Foundation (TMCF), April 11-12, focuses on student mental health on black college campuses question.

“Compared with 61 percent of white students, 75 percent of black college students reported a tendency to retain their feelings about how difficult college was,” said Victoria Smith, a strategic analyst at UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building. “Furthermore, black students were more likely than other groups to experience anxiety and depression but were less likely to actually seek mental health services.”

Meag-gan O’Reilly, Ph.D., psychologist, co-founder of Inherent Value Psychology Inc. and lecturer at Stanford University School of Medicine, urges college students to think about their “non-resume self,” the traits and details of self-definition. The self that doesn’t show up on your resume. For example, some of O’Reilly’s claims are that she is a first-generation Jamaican-American, the youngest sibling in her family.

College is often considered a time of leaving the nest, self-discovery and personal growth. But once the concept of college and mental health was “decolonized” from its white, cisgender roots, there was a realization that the black college experience could mean more, O’Reilly said.

“As we decolonize this season of your life, we also bring more nuance,” O’Reilly said. “[College] It could also be about deepening your affiliation. Many of you here chose to go to HBCU because maybe you have some heritage in your family or you want to deepen your identity as an African diaspora. “

O’Reilly emphasized that students should not — and should not allow others — to belittle and criticize their unique college experiences because they are not traditional ones. If it’s good for your health, do more of it, she adds.

“You don’t have to walk like everyone else, and give yourself enough space to let your joys and sorrows come with you,” O’Reilly said. “You may meet students and colleagues who are happy to be away from home. , living their best lives. You may be homesick.  …The emotions you feel are valid, and through these loving dealings will be part of the battle.

Another panel focused on loss, stress, and the harms of not dealing with grief properly. Global Health Psychiatry and Psychiatrist specializing in cultural psychiatry and women’s mental health.

For today’s college students, she said, the grief can stem from lost high school experiences, such as prom and graduation, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. These milestones may seem small, but they are significant, Cassiano said.

Grief should be dealt with before it starts affecting daily life and causing severe mental and physical stress, Cassiano said. Our goal is to bring the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — to an end in psychiatry, said Dr. James Lee, Jr., medical director of adult services at Springbrook Behavioral Health and a founding member of Global Health.

“Getting closure doesn’t mean forgetting. Gaining closure just means you’re able to manipulate your feelings, your situations, [in] A way that is more helpful and rewarding for you,” Lee said. , you can go back and pull it up. …you can go back and pick it up, open it up, and operate it the way you need it to. The point is that you can close it, move it, and walk anywhere in front of you. “

The pair stress that seeking mental health support takes strength, not weakness.

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