Evangeline Colarossi — Staff Writer
Tuesday night found the West Commons crowded with packed tables, sweet snacks, and important topics to discuss. Approximately two hundred attendees, both students and professors were randomly assigned a table to sit at, awaiting deep discussion of mental health. Dordt is known for its aspect of community, and the Psychology Club wanted to use this to open up topics that may normally be avoided.
“When I looked around, there was never a table that had a lull in talking and I think that speaks to how needed this conversation was,” said senior psychology student Megan Middel. “People are willing and wanting to talk about it, and that’s beautiful to me.”
Shelly Rock, the speaker from Make It Okay presented several ideas, played supporting videos, and then used audience participation to gather polls displaying the general climate towards mental illness. This process was repeated throughout the evening, broken up by discussion at each table to “take down barriers in order to foster a climate in which our call and discipleship of loving our neighbor becomes a part of who we are on and off campus,” said Middel.
Students and professors come from a variety of backgrounds, ages, and locations. All of these factors can affect a person’s understanding and feelings towards mental illness. Discussing this topic and understanding that mental health is just as vital as physical health is how the Psych Club hopes to eliminate stigma about this topic.
Psychology professor Bruce Vermeer serves on the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) North West Iowa Board, along with Shelly Rock, the speaker at Make It Okay. He approached the Psych Club with this event after Rock told him of the program. Megan Middel, Sarah Krysl, and Levi Jungling, along with the Dordt Psych Club has been spreading awareness, raising funds, and organizing this event since the end of November 2019. Funding for the event came from Student Life, Human Resources, Dordt Administration, Co-Curricular Committee, and the Psychology Department.
“The Psych Club normally plans smaller, more low-key events, so this was a whole new task and step up in responsibilities than what we were used to,” said Middel. “We were happy and excited to plan such an important event as this.”
This was the first time Make It Okay has been held on a college campus, but psychology professor Luralyn Helming hopes that this will encourage students to personally help with this campaign.
“While the Psych Club could do this again, I think it would be more effective if future efforts were dispersed across the student body, as mental illness touches everyone,” said Helming. “Treating those with mental illness with respect is not only in the hands of future psychologists, but rather is the business of all.”
If you would like to become involved with Make It Okay, contact Professor Helming or Dr. Vermeer. For someone to talk to regarding mental health questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, campus ministries, or a trusted friend or mentor.