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FHSU students sponsor 'Can You See Me?' mental health event


By CRISTINA JANNEY Hays Post

A freshman at Fort Hays State University has organized a panel to explore the unique struggles of minorities with mental illness.

"Can You See Me?" a panel discussion, seeks to tell the untold stories of psychological struggles, triumphs and essential resources for support and healing.

The event will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, in the Black and Gold Room at the Memorial Union. The event is free and open to the public and will be streamed live at Tiger Media Network.

Host will be Grady Dixon, professor of geosciences and interim dean of the Peter Werth College of Science. Kenneth Windholz, FHSU psychology instructor, and Tisa Mason, FHSU president, will give closing remarks. All seven panelists are from a different ethnic group, and the format is meant to be open discussion rather than lecture.

Panelist will be

  1. Nuchelle Chance- Psychology Faculty/ Professor

  2. Joshua Tanguay- Psychology Faculty/ Professor

  3. Hsin Yen Yang - Assistant Professor of Communication Studies.

  4. Seif Sekalala - Assistant Professor of Communication Studies

  5. Medhavi Ambardar - Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences

  6. Claudia Carvalho - Instructor of Biological Sciences

  7. Hugo Perez -Assistant Director Transfer Coordinator

The panel sprang from a theory that people from minority groups had a higher psychological pain tolerance. However, no research has proven this theory.

The event will be broken into three sections. Students will be sharing stories of their struggles with and recovery from mental illness. The panelists will be presented with pre-written questions and then the forum will be opened to audience questions as time allows.

Demetrius Chance, FHSU freshman and a member of the FHSU National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter, said "I really thought about the different ethnic groups and the difference pain tolerance that they go through, how everyone differs, especially growing up. But we all suffer."

Chance and NAMI wanted to create an event in which all different ethnic groups could be a part.

"In constructing this event, I was thinking everyone goes through something. We all suffer at some point in our lives," he said, 'but nobody really talks about it."

Chance said there is tons of research on resilience and life after, but no one talks about what happens during that process of dealing with trauma.

"I have noticed on campus that there are a lot of people who are suffering, and a lot of people who are struggling," he said. "Some people don't know how or what to do to get help.

"We wanted to come together and get outside of the stereotypes and get outside of the he said, she said and get professionals to come tell their stories and explain the differences in psychological trauma," Chance said. ...

"Making mental health a common language rather than a stereotype," he said, "may help us unite more."

Chance is hoping this event will help people better understand what it means to be diagnosed with a mental illness and learn about avenues of getting help.

Chance, 29, himself has been diagnosed with PTSD, major depression and panic disorder.

"How I was raised. I was raised in a small town, but if you went through anything it was more of 'You have to get over it. You have to move on,'" he said.

Chance's PTSD was the result of molestation that began when he was 7.

"The one thing about me telling my story and with this event, I have to be completely an open book," he said. "I have to be vocal on these issues so hopefully I can inspire someone to be vocal."

Chance said not only was discussing mental health difficult in his family and culture but it was also difficult for him as a man.

"Pride was the biggest thing being a male," he said. "A lot of times we focus on the duties of a male to be the provider, to be the protector, to do all these things. It is not show your emotions, sit down and tell me what you're going through. It is more, 'I am a man. I have to deal with it.' If I say something, it is going to be a weakness."

For more information, contact Chance at 910-336-8597 or email Dchance@mail.fhsu.edu.

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