Psi Chi hosts program to end stigma

Sophomore psychology major Taylor Ault speaks at the U-Night To End Stigma event about her history with self harm and attempted suicide in the Student Center Ballroom, Monday, April 14, 2014. Ault said, “me being able to stand up here and talk about my addiction proves it is fightable.”

Halie Rogers

Kent State’s Psi Chi International Honors Society hosted the U-Night to End Stigma program on Monday in the Kent State Ballroom in support of those who face stigma.

The event focused on topics such as physical and mental disabilities, gender and sexuality, mental health and the language used to discuss these topics.

Students and guest speakers gave presentations that explained their insight and life experiences on the topics.

“My efforts for this event are in honor of my father and everyone else who, in the pursuit of love and compassion, find resistance among waves of contradiction, unawareness and closed-mindedness,” said Morgan Shields, president of Psi Chi and senior psychology major.

Sascha Altman DuBrul, a mental health activist and co-founder of the Icarus Project, a mental health awareness program, gave a presentation titled “Navigating the ‘Stigma’ Trap: Creating a New Language and Culture of Psychic Diversity.”

“Stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person,” DuBrul said. “You can look at someone and see the parts you like; the beautiful side, but there is always a shadow side that you can choose to talk about.”

Another speaker at the event was Barbara Allegra Verlezza, an associate professor in Kent State’s School of Dance. She works with individuals who are physically disabled and choreographs dance routines for them. Her presentation was titled  “Dance and Disability: Artistic versus Therapeutic.”

Afterward, Roberta Bailey, a junior dance major, and Abbey Recker, a sophomore early childhood education major, performed a dance titled “No More Tears.”

The final speaker was Morton Gernsbacher, a research professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She spoke about brain differences and when neuroscientist should focus on these differences and embrace them. Her presentation was titled “Diverse Brains.”

Aneela Qadir, a junior psychology major discussed several myths that she unravels by sharing her story of what just began as stress.

“People with mental illnesses don’t get better,” Qadir said. “I am here to tell you that I am better. I now feel the power to help others through my experiences to spread the word and promote hope for others.”

Contact Halie Rogers at [email protected].

Editor’s note: Due to a reporter’s error, the original article has been changed to reflect the following corrections. The original headline “Psi Chi hosts program to end disability stigma” has been changed to reflect that not just disability stigma was discussed at the event. Misquoted quotes by Morgan Shields and Aneela Qadir have been changed.