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Caucus Takes A Close Look At Mental Health

Heights Editor

Published: Monday, February 25, 2013

Updated: Monday, February 25, 2013 02:02

Caucus Takes A Closer Loo At Mental Health

Eun Hee Kwon // Heights Staff

“I hope this encourages and gives a template for action to other organizations involved,” Matt Alonsozana, A&S ’14, said about Silver Week at Boston College. “If there’s going to be a change in regard to how we perceive mental health, and to how we help our friends avail [University] resources when they need them—that type of catalyst can only be held in a student community.” The Asian Caucus (AC) of BC, an organization consisting of BC’s Asian culture clubs, presented “Opening the Cabinet: Real Talk on Mental Health,” a collaborative performance-based initiative aimed toward promoting mental health awareness, last Thursday. The event focused on an array of themes pertaining to mental health. Ranging from the internal and often-hushed struggles of home life to the impending pressures of future endeavors, students of AC openly shared their experiences with those affected by mental health issues.

The push for mental health awareness through AC’s presentation in a crowded Cushing 001, led by co-presidents Alonsozana and Jeena Hah, both A&S ’14, was a component of Silver Week: a four-part event series dedicated to broadening perspectives on mental health. AC’s Silver Week programs sought to summarize concerns among students and encourage a transparent approach toward recognizing and mediating issues of mental health.

“It’s not just AC that’s concerned about mental health—it’s the administration, UGBC, the Jenks leadership program—all of these organizations are starting to notice there’s a greater need for us to be truly Jesuit in our conception of health, and if we’re going to be holistic we also need to be concerned about mental health,” Alonsozana said on the importance of recognizing the issue’s prominence among students. “I think the rigor of discussion and yet the inability to recognize the resources available really hinders students from getting help when they need it.”
The performances delivered throughout the night explored familial matters, issues of depression, identity, trust, addiction, and the all-too-familiar stress that imbues academics.

Spoken word pieces on human shortcomings and social “failure,” skits depicting reflecting the counsel friendship can provide, and a speech by Alonsozana on the hardships of finding one’s identity all shed light on the prevalence of mental health adversity faced on campus and at home.

“I’m a junk food-loving fatty, looking for a girlfriend, loves manga, and loves sleeping in,” Alonsozana said while discussing the topic of identity. “But I’m a human being.”
Representatives from seven different culture clubs also addressed communal concerns of fearing disapproval, reliance on others, and tarnished loyalty—amalgamating a bevy of social and vocational frustrations for all in attendance.

A talk on bullying by Noel Simon, co-president of BC’s South Asian Student Association and CSOM ’13, expressed to the audience a sentiment of regret, as he was once subjected to the peer pressures of bullying during his middle school years. “Treating someone in a bad way takes more effort than treating someone in a good way,” he said. “It takes more effort to be a bully than a friend … Put simply, treat others the way you’d want to be treated.” Simon’s candid reflection on a lesson afforded students insight on the dangers of bullying and recognition of bullying in all its forms.

“Opening the Cabinet” allowed students the opportunity to not only recognize issues of mental health as they are faced by friends, family, peers, and colleagues among others, but also heavily stressed the resources available to students.

“It’s important to know that they’re there,” Alonsozana said about accessing University Counseling Services. “Knowing where it is—perhaps expanding the visibility of the UCS office—[could be] really helpful. Silver Week doesn’t just end with today. Asian Caucus has made it a focus not just to be a campus advocate for mental health, but the regional and national leader for advocating on Asian-American mental health needs.”

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