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Lecture fights stigma of mental health

By Emma Califano                                                                                     Correspondent

What do Demi Lovato, Abraham Lincoln and Brandon Marshall have in common? The same thing that one in four people in the world suffer from: mental health disorders. Kurt and Tricia Baker have devoted their lives to Attitudes in Reverse (A.I.R.), a program that combats the negative stigma associated with mental health disorders, after the suicide of their son, Kenny, at age 19.

In the library auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 21, the Bakers gave a presentation about mental health awareness and the dangers associated with it having a negative connotation.

“Kenny was a great kid, a hard worker and a swimmer who loved his family, his friends and his loving girlfriend,” said Ken’s father, Kurt. “But he suffered from a severe case of dyslexia and depression, which ultimately took his life.”

A mental health disorder is defined as a biological condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior or mood, and may affect his or her ability to relate to others. While one in four people suffer from some form of mental health disorder, only 40 percent seek any form of treatment, according to the presentation

“Why is this?” Kurt asked the audience in frustration.

According to Kurt, it is because of the negative stigma attached to anxiety disorders, eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, depression and the many other disorders that people don’t realize are treatable. The media attaches words such as “dangerous,” “unstable” or “psychopath” to victims suffering in silence with mental health disorders. This only fuels the negative stigma.

“Because of the advancement in medicine and technology, we are now able to focus on permanent, long-term treatments and will see improvements within the coming years,” Kurt said.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 34. Because of this alarming statistic, it is important to understand key warning signs of a person with suicidal tendencies, according to the presentation.

“It’s so important that if you have a friend who is struggling, to tell them how much they mean to you. All I ask is that you be there for each other because you have the power to save lives,” Tricia said.

The College has taken recent action to address mental health disorders by creating Lion’s House. This housing is available for matriculated students to reside in, with at least three months of sobriety and commitment to living alcohol and drug free lives. Along with Lion’s House, there are many resources available on campus for students who feel they are battling a mental health disorder.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out for help,” Kurt said. “This is not the end of the road, this is just the beginning.”

For students and faculty struggling with their mental health, there are resources available:

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
Eickhoff Hall 107
Hours: Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

TCNJ Clinic
Forcina Hall 124
Hours: Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. –4:30 p.m.
Tuesday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m.

TCNJ Campus Police
Contact Campus Police by dialing 911 from any campus phone or 609-771-2345 from a cell phone.

New Jersey Hopeline:
1-855-654-6735 FREE

Crisis Text Line:
Text “Start” to 741741

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Forcina Hall 124
After hours: 609-571-0677


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