Discussing mental health | UDaily

The mission of the Biden Institute of the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware is to bring together scholars, policymakers, journalists, business and nonprofit leaders, government officials, and activists to engage with the urgent domestic policy issues facing America today. But before policy action can be taken, the problems must first be identified.

One of the biggest issues facing college students today is mental health, and on Thursday, September 15, the Biden Institute hosted Christopher and Erik Ewers, the documentary’s co-directors Ken Burns presents Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illnessfor a discussion at the Trabant University Center.

“We need to think about the policies that can make this world better,” said Cathy McLaughlin, executive director of the Biden Institute. “We need to identify the challenges before we can change policy. That’s why we’re here today. We’re here to have those conversations and to talk about the political issues that matter to our students. If you don’t talk about it, you can’t fix it.”

Each semester, the Biden Institute program focuses on different policy areas with the goal of engaging and inspiring the next generation of leaders to shape public conversations and influence policy at the local, state, and federal levels.

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Following a 15-minute clip from the film, Helen Ann Lawless, Director of Strategic Wellbeing and Training at UD, moderated the discussion.

“We know that at this point in the academic year, especially freshmen, they might be feeling lonely or stressed,” she said. “This definitely gives them an opportunity to feel seen, to network, and to learn more about our commitment as a community to support this work.”

Hide in plain sight features personal accounts from more than 20 young people, ages 11 to 27, living with mental illness, as well as parents, teachers, friends, healthcare providers and mental health experts. The film shows a window into everyday life with psychological challenges and confronts the issues of stigma, discrimination and awareness.

“The whole idea of ​​this film is to give young people a voice when they haven’t gotten one in this conversation, but they’re the ones most likely to show symptoms early in life,” said Erik Ewers.

Christopher Ewers said he believes mental illness is a lot more common than many people think.

“Statistics say that one in four Americans has a mental illness, and that’s just outrageous — it’s misleading,” said Christopher Ewers. “It’s four out of four, just like none of us have ever experienced physical illness. And until we have that fairness of thought — and then, of course, equality in politics and treatment — we will repeat the same process.”

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Erik Ewers said that a key goal of the film is to raise awareness of mental health issues faced by young people, as well as to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

“We tend to cross the street if we see someone babbling incoherently, unlike someone who’s broken their leg, you’d run over there immediately to help,” he said. “And why is that? We’re not literate. We have people in the film who have hallucinations and delusions, and you can see they’re real people too.”

Ellie Lichty, a freshman political scientist, attended the event because she said she struggles with her mental health and hopes to raise awareness about the issue.

“I think it’s really, really important to talk about mental health in youth. I struggle with it and I have a lot of people around me who struggle with it,” she said. “I found the questions very relevant to today’s society. I also liked how [Erik and Chris] Assemble the film so it’s relevant to today, rather than mental health 50 years ago. And of course it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of how to help other people.”

The need for mental health care is greater than ever, Lawless said, and UD has made great strides in helping students and staff prioritize mental health. She reminded students about the mental health services offered at the Wellbeing Center in Warner Hall and that most services are available both in person and virtually. Students can also reach mental health support 24 hours a day through the UD Helpline or the Crisis Text Line.

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While mental health services are essential, Christopher Ewers said it’s important not to discount the impact empathy can have.

“The more we can relate one-to-one with empathy and respect, that’s certainly going to affect everything, but in terms of mental health, absolutely,” he said.


For any student who needs support or assistance, the Department of Student Life offers a variety of resources.

Students may contact the Center for Counseling and Student Development at 302-831-2141. The UD Helpline is available 24 hours a day at 302-831-1001 for students who are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, depressed or otherwise need guidance.

In addition, the staff of the Office of the Dean of Studies are available for discussions. Call 302-831-8939 to schedule an appointment.

Mental health support for UD beneficiary employees is provided by ComPsych® GuidanceResources®. The link includes steps to access services or call 1-877-527-4742 for support.

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