Contributed by Miguel Caraballo from Middle Theory Music
During my freshman year of college, the floor felt out from underneath me.
My depression and anxiety overtook me—I could barely make it through classes and would often find myself lying alone in a dorm room, curled up on the bed, overwhelmed by unexplained emotional pain.
The worst part of it all is that I was alone. Or, at least I thought I was. It would be more than two years before I finally reached out to a friend to tell them what I was going through. That was two years too long.
The only thing worse than walking around in constant internal pain is to do it alone and to believe that you’re the only one. I’m one of the lucky ones. All too often, two years of not sharing that struggle ends in tragedy. I eventually opened up to my roommates and was met with support and love. That led me to seek out professional counseling, and I began to take medication that helped provide a strong foundation for me to learn to live with the reality of depression and anxiety.
The music that I create often dives into my struggles and history with depression. Two years ago, my producer challenged me to begin to talk more openly about it. As I toured college campuses, I decided to share some of the stories behind my songs.
And then it happened. Student after student began approaching me in tears, sharing their own struggles with depression that had led them down dark and scary paths. Their tears have imprinted on me the reality that so many are struggling. I’ve also wondered about the many who are still too afraid or ashamed to open up.
Looking back at those shows, I wish there was someone there who those students could have connected with. What would it look like to have an event where campus counselors are not only present, but one in which it’s made clear that they’re ready and available to talk to anyone who needs help?
What would it look like to have campus activities boards and campus mental health services partner for an event? Are there students who would be willing to share their stories at an event like this? Is there a staff member who would be willing to share at an event like this?
An event like this could be a great uncross-your-arms moment for your students who are struggling in silence. It was such a scary thing for me to open up to someone else about what I was going through. Hearing others share could inspire students to break through the fear and find the help and support they need.
The possibilities are limitless, but at the end of the day I think the two most important principles to keep in mind are;
- Helping students see that they are not alone.
- Providing a context for conversations.
If you find ways to do this in a consistent way, I have no doubt that your activities board will make a powerful and life-changing impact on your campus in regards to depression and mental health.
If you’ve ever held an event like this, I’d love to hear from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk.
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