Next Common Read event aims to bring awareness


The 2016 Common Read series opened using the acronym RAISE: resilience, awareness, identity, support and expression.

The next event of the Common Read series focuses on the A in RAISE: awareness.

Starting at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21 in the Bailey Rotunda D, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is presenting In-Our-Own-Voice, a program to bring mental health awareness to South Dakota State students.

Two speakers from the Sioux Falls NAMI will present on how to deal and recover from mental illness by sharing their personal experiences.

NAMI is an organization dedicated to improving lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI is a nonprofit organization that offers support groups, activities and education for communities all over the country.

Darcy Nichols, assistant director of Wellness Center Counseling, said she hopes mental illness education reduces the stigma of depression on campus through the Common Read events.

“It starts with educating yourself. With education comes the ability to communicate. SDSU is embracing the challenge of supporting a population of 18- to 24-year-olds that one in four have a diagnosable illness,” Nichols said. “We hope that more people are comfortable coming in [to counseling services] and it leads to more prevention of mental illness.”

This event aims to expose students to the reality of depression, especially for college students.

“Students are facing greater stress than ever before which is linked to a greater prevalence of mental illness,” Nichols said.

Cameron Schroder, broadcast journalism major, believes beginning a discussion on depression is important.

“It affects more people than we know. The Common Read events help me realize we are not alone,” Schroder said.

The Wellness Center Counseling polled the SDSU freshmen class of 2015 last year about their emotional state.

According to the survey results, “81 percent of SDSU students felt overwhelmed at college. 47 percent felt lonely and 24 percent felt depressed.”

The prevalence of mental illness is one of the reasons Mary Beth Fishback wanted to join the Common Read Committee this year. Fishback is passionate about mental illness advocacy, since she is the current board president of Sioux Falls NAMI.

“The kick-off event was really well attended, over 600 people attended,” Fishback said. “We are trying to get community of resources by presenting different options for students [through the Common Read].”