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Islanders paint to erase negative stigmas

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JONATHAN FORNEY
@jb4nay

An interactive student art exhibit is currently on display at the Mary and Jeff Bell Library to raise awareness for suicide prevention and eradicate stigmas associated with mental health.

Inspire an Islander is a two-week exhibition put on by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s College of Nursing and the counseling center. The program is the latest result of the Suicide Awareness Focuses on Everyone (S.A.F.E.) grant. In 2016, the grant helped create Links Across Campus, an event where students were able to write positive messages on papers that would be linked creating a chain of support for all to see. This year, the department wanted to expand on that concept of involvement.

“We wanted to have something that was more visceral, more visually stimulating,” said MBA student and graduate assistant Eduek Inyang “We want people to see the pictures and be inspired to do something.”

The exhibit accepted student submissions related to inspiring others. Works of varying types of media were accepted including paintings, short stories, collages and more pieces were selected to be displayed.

Students visiting the exhibit were also encouraged to inspire others with their works of art. Attendees could paint their hands and add their handprint to the Commitment Board. This was designed to indicate how students are committed to help others erase stigmas related to mental health.

Wellness blogger for the New York Times Julie Scelfo said these stigmas have existed for quite some time.

“There is still tremendous stigma surrounding mental illness, and not everyone who experiences depression is willing to talk about it,” Scelfo said.

There were also open canvases for event attendees to write their own positive messages and create artwork. The only stipulations were: keeping messages in line with the theme of suicide prevention and removing stigmas toward mental health, leave space for others to create their own pieces and clean their supplies after use. Inyang said the open canvas was intended to encourage participation.

“We want people to see what other people have done and be inspired to do something,” Inyang said.

The prior Links Across Campus event led to more than 1,900 individuals signing positive messages. Inyang said this is a result of people making themselves available to help.

“People are committed to being there,” Inyang said. “Learning about mental health, learning about some of the resources on campus and, most importantly, being ready to say ‘I will be there when you need help.’”

The counseling center set up a table with resources available to students on their services such as the mood check or scheduling appointment with on-campus counselors. For more information on counseling services and the S.A.F.E grant, visit their website: counseling.tamucc.edu.

 

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