Community Common Read Kickoff shows mental health support


Mental health awareness is being spread throughout campus with the 2016 Common Read.

The Community Common Read Kickoff started at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 in the Volstorff Ballroom. 

This semester, freshman seminar and transition seminar courses are reading Boy Meets Depression by Kevin Breel, which follows a young boy through depression. A total of 10 events are planned for the 2016 fall semester.

“Depression is the number one reason that students drop out of college,” said Mary Beth Fishback, one of the speakers for mental illness awareness. 

RAISE, the theme of this semester’s read, stands for resilience, awareness, identity, support and expression. Discussion from this theme included Doctor Mary Isaacson on resilience, Fishback and Darci Nichols on awareness, Kerry Brown on identity, Jennifer Novotny on support and Viraj Patel on expression. 

Each speech promoted mental health awareness. Isaacson talked about steps to enhance resilience. 

“The goal is to thrive and then to flourish,“  Isaacson said. “Learning resilience is learning to thrive.”

Fishback and Nichols gave a short quiz to the groups of students in attendance to gain a sense of how knowledgeable the crowd was on mental health.

Brown took a different approach by telling his personal story and relating back to the Common Read.

Support was comically explained by Novotny and ways both professors and students can support those with mental health issues were given. Some examples were where to ask questions, asking “how are you” and supplying students with free food during finals. 

“You never outgrow (support),” Novotny said. 

A “Letter to My Former Self” was presented by Patel for the expression section of the event.  

Starting out with a total of 45 facilitators and six students to a group, the event grew rapidly as students continued to file into Volstorff Ballroom. 

According to Rebecca Bott, chair of the Common Read committee, more than 2,500 South Dakota State University students and community members joined in on learning about depression with Kevin Breel’s book Boy Meets Depression.

The event ended with students taking the “I Will Listen” pledge as they wrote their names on sticky notes to be posted on the banner. A green awareness ribbon was also handed out to each student by their facilitator. President Barry Dunn made an appearance and concluded the event.

The next Common Read event will be the RAISE UP for Wellness Sept. 12 through Sept. 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Main Street of The Union. The event introduces students to wellness resources in the community and campus.