Ending the stigma

Gay-Straight Alliance holds a photo campaign to raise mental health awareness

Mary Catherine Wells, Lead Reporter

The Gay-Straight Alliance, or GSA, recently decided to take a stand and spread awareness on an issue close to the hearts of its members. On Jan. 27, the group wrote messages about the stigma of mental illness on whiteboards and posted photos of the messages on Twitter with the hashtag #Bellletstalk.

With every tweet and retweet, the Canadian organization of the same name donated 5 cents to research for mental illness.

“Proceeds went to research about mental illnesses and ways to cure it, with medicines, therapy, and et cetera,” junior and GSA member Ryan Allen said.

The inspiration for GSA’s participation came from seniors Sonali Mehta and Mayra Yundt-Pacheco.

“I knew the day was coming up, and talking about mental illness in an open and healthy way is so important to breaking down the stigma,” Mehta said.

GSA advisor Brian Erskine noted the disproportionate effects of mental health issues, especially “depression, eating disorders and anxiety” on LGBT youth.

“We all wanted to break down the stigma that needlessly surrounds mental health so that parents, students, and other adults can retrain the way we talk about these people,” Erskine said.

The goal of the campaign was to spawn conversation.

The campaign was intended to start an adult conversation about the way we, all of us, talk about mental health,” Erskine said. “Whether we joke around about someone being ‘crazy,’ or ‘ditsy,’ or ‘lazy’ there are often times legitimate reasons why people display these attributes. Oftentimes it isn’t something they can govern without professionally-licensed psychologists and psychiatrists.”