The Black Student Alliance held a panel Tuesday to encourage black students to discuss their mental health issues in a safe space. The event was part of an event series to celebrate Black History Month.
The BSA board created and presented a slideshow titled “Emotionally Scarred,” each slide displaying a question or statistic then students were able to discuss their feelings.
Students shared their childhood traumas and learned how to cope. Many of the students who attended were raised in single-parent households or were raised by neither parents. While students shared their childhood traumas, many students said “I grew up too fast.”
Talysia Downing is a senior from Lexington studying social work and organizational leadership. Downing is the secretary of BSA.
“It’s hard to just talk about the way we were raised,” Downing said. “I think [students] saw here today that it’s okay to talk about [mental health] and it’s okay to reach out for help” Downing said. “I feel like we have a lot of pride as African Americans, and we feel like that we can’t release stress without being weak.”
Downing said many of her peers have a difficult time expressing what mental health issues they are dealing with.
“Overall I feel like mental health is overlooked in general,” Downing said. “I feel like it’s something that we don’t take as serious, in our world and it’s just something that we need to grow with and be better with. However, I do feel like African Americans probably suffered a little bit more in our community just because we feel like we can’t openly discuss it without being judged or stereotyped.”
Overall, Downing felt like the event was a success in getting black students to open up to others.
“So I think we’ve made African American students feel more confident in expressing mental health,” Downing said.
Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy