Dolphins Changing Minds

More stories from Anthony Pham

This semester, an eight page mental health brochure filled with intimate details in regards to mental health issues was released by an Advisory Board to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health. The collection shares a range of nonfiction, poetry, personal stories and experiences written by current students, alumni, and parents of current and former students and is currently being distributed across campus.

The brochure was pioneered by Anne Kearney, Dean for Student Development, after securing a grant from the New York State Office of Mental Health.

As Kearney shares, “The publication aims to help readers understand that mental health issues can affect any of us and that, despite these challenges, we are active, involved, and successful members of our community.”

Copies are located around campus and share honest stories and reflections on mental health. Mental health issues can impact anyone and this brochure shares that in intimate details in order to shed the shroud of stigma and confusion surrounding mental health, according to Maria Randazzo.

According to Kearney, “The target audience primarily is our Le Moyne community.” This keeps the focus close to home as well as targeting those that the brochure can impact the most. It is available to those outside our community here to help those in our surrounding areas.

“We hope that the publication sparks dialogue and discussion amongst its readers. In these reflections and discussions, we hope that increased awareness and sensitivity happens,” Kearney states.

Molly Murphy, a sophomore CMM major stated, “The message drew me in more than anything, equal parts awareness and opportunity. This was a chance to let people know how mental illness affects the lives of the people around them. Giving us the opportunity to tell our stories, rather than a recycled Hollywood picture of mental illness, was extremely important.”

Murphy was one of the contributors, sharing her poem, “Prescription.” Other submissions include: “A Story of Recovery,” “Hourglass,” and “Diagnosis.”

The Advisory Board for the brochure includes as mentioned before Anne Kearney, Dean for Student Development. As well as Dr. Seetha Ramanathan of SUNY Upstate, Laurie Best of the Hutchings Psychiatric Center and Project AWARE, Maria Randazzo, Director of the Wellness Center for Health and Counseling and Daniel Roche, chair of the Communication & Film Studies department.

Zach Leader, a senior CMM major, was the lead Graphic Designer.

“Dolphins Changing Minds,” can be traced back two years ago to a grant from Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience Education), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in order to train individuals on campus with Mental Health First Aid training. This training allowed provided training to the first lines of defense for the students, such as academic advisors, resident advisors, and faculty as those individuals would spot the signs of a mental health issue first.

In the summer of 2017, Dr. Seetha Ramanathan mentioned to Kearney about an additional grant that was designed surrounding the mental health stigma on campus. A board created and drafted a proposal that detailed information about the brochure. The proposal was accepted and the brochure was brought to life.

There was a call for selections this past fall that were advertised via email, social media, and other various Le Moyne media outlets. The selections that were used in the brochure were chosen by the advisory committee.

There will be a second publication coming out in the future. For those interested in submitting a piece for the second edition after the Spring break, the committee will be sending out another “call for submissions” for the second edition. The next one published will be an online one, and we will be seeking works that are in the expressive arts, i.e. paintings, drawings, music, song or dance to express some of these same kinds of stories. For more information on anything in this story, you can contact Anne Kearney, Dean for Student Development at [email protected]

For those wishing to receive a copy but can’t find one, you can reach out to Anne Kearney, Dean for Student Development at [email protected]