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Stomping the Stigma Around Mental Health

by Erika Jakubiszen

Professor Tom Franklin taking a selfie with his Theory and Practice of Advocacy class after the event.
Therese Sheridan | The Montclarion

Students and professors gathered in the School of Communication and Media Presentation Hall for Stomp the Stigma, an event that provided education and resources on treating mental health.

The event held on Wednesday, Dec. 6, was put together by an upper-level communication class, Theory and Practice of Advocacy. The students worked throughout the semester with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Montclair State University’s chapter of Active Minds, which is a student-run organization that focuses on raising awareness of mental health.

The event featured three videos made by Montclair State students that stressed the importance of mental health for college students.


From left to right: Stephanie Cardoso, a senior in the Theory and Practice of Advocacy Class, moderating the discussion with Cindy Nelson, Christopher McKinley and Sudha Wadhwani.
Therese Sheridan | The Montclarion

The panel discussion featured Associate Professor Dr. Christopher McKinley, art therapist Dr. Cindy Nelson and CAPS psychologist Dr. Sudha Wadhwani. They talked about depression, anxiety, managing stress and art therapy as an alternative solution to improve mental health.

McKinley and Wadhwani spoke about how social media influences people’s mental health status.

“Anything can go viral now,” Wadhwani said. “Social media can impact your social and performance anxiety and it’s even more critical to take care of yourself. Not just in physical ways, but also in a way that you speak to yourself.”

Professor Philip Bakelaar drew a graphic recording, which visualized the topics the panelists discussed on a large drawing paper. He told students that the drawing is more of a “visual realization” and can reveal a deeper meaning.

The audience was encouraged to ask questions for the panelists along with entering in a contest. They were instructed to take pictures of the event and post them on social media using the hashtag “#StompTheStigmaMSU.” At the end of the discussion, three winners were selected for posting the best picture.


Students occupying every seat for the Stomp the Stigma event in the School of Communication and Media’s Presentation Hall.
Kayli Balsama | The Montclarion

Students mainly attended the event as a colloquium for the major requirement. There were several students who attended because they had personal connections with the topic of mental health.

“I’m a part of a group called Q-Bility where we have weekly discussions about being queer with a disability, so I would like to see the panelists talk about mental health issues in the LGBTQ community,” said Joanne Weigel, a senior public relations major.

Cyrus Segura, a senior filmmaking major, felt inspired by the event to propose a curriculum requirement regarding the mental health of students.

“I talked about this with my girlfriend, but what if there were mental health awareness classes that students had to take either here in college or in high school?” Segura said. “So many people probably feel alone, and there should be more attention in helping these people.”

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