On Tuesday, May 6, as part of an event during the Children’s Mental Health Matters Campaign, the UMBC Department of Psychology’s YouthFIRST team, led by Associate Professor Jason Schiffman and YouthFIRST Anti-Stigma Division Director Danielle Denenny; Taking Flight and the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health; the Mental Health Association of Maryland; and the UMBC Counseling Center hosted a panel discussion entitled, “Students Share Stories: Navigating College with Mental Health Challenges.”
Speaking to an audience of nearly 100 people, three UMBC student panelists shared their personal journeys through illness and recovery and discussed issues of stigma and mental health. Imparted were stories of isolation, despair, challenges, and fear; as well as stories of growth, meaning, perseverance, inspiration, friendship and love.
The messages of both pain and hope challenged the audience to understand new perspectives and began a dialog in the service of breaking down barriers and promoting inclusivity. The audience expressed gratitude for the panelists’ openness and asked questions that inspired ideas and created deep personal connections.
Earlier in the day, in an attempt to promote the panel event and to bring greater awareness to mental health in an uplifting way, Dr. Schiffman, Elaine O’Heir, Nicole Mooney and the entire YouthFIRST team organized a flashmob on campus in front of the Math/Psychology building. Led by Dr. Schiffman’s seven and eight-year-olds, Chloe and Jacob, more than 200 people united to celebrate mental health through dance. The video can be found here.