NAMI On Campus Hosts an Art Therapy Session

David Anderson, Staff Writer |

NAMI On Campus, SUNY Oneonta’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, hosted an Art Therapy session in Fitzelle 206 this past Thursday at 8:00 p.m. The Alliance provided coloring books, art supplies, and a relaxing atmosphere for students looking to de-stress.

Besides facilitating this environment, the chapter also discussed some of the prevalent mental health issues in the media and in the campus environment. Chapter president, Kristina Freshour, shared a clip from the TV show “Shameless” in which a character with Bipolar Disorder expresses their difficulty in finding work and confronts their former employer about discriminatory labor practices against people with a mental illness. The character asserts that while mental illnesses are just as debilitating as physical handicaps, people who suffer from them are not treated with proper equity in the workforce. While the scene itself is a melancholy one, the clip was shared as an indicator that some positive change is coming to the representation of mental illness in American culture and led to a further discussion about how it has been portrayed in the past.

Following the presentation of the clip, Ms. Freshour and chapter secretary, Dana Marvin, shared their disgust with the 2016 film “Split,” directed by M. Night Shyamalan. They argued that the film portrayed Dissociative Identity Disorder incorrectly, caricaturizing the disorder for dramatic effect and ultimately offering no constructive portrayal of those suffering from the illness.

They did, however, express their approval of films such as “Girl, Interrupted” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” While they agreed that these films offer a more nuanced and humane portrayal of those in the care of a psychiatric facility, they felt that, at least in the case of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the portrayal of psychiatric life and the nurses in charge furthered the popular notion that these facilities are a constricting and rigid environment. Freshour and Marvin both shared personal experiences from their time spent interning and volunteering at psychiatric facilities and advocated that generally, there is more freedom and less of an authoritative attitude than is portrayed in popular cinema.

Beyond this discussion, Ms. Freshour also brought up the Out of the Darkness walk that will be happening on campus Sunday, April 2. The walk is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness and funds for further research into American suicide trends.

While Art Therapy sessions only occur a few times each semester, NAMI On Campus meets every week to discuss current mental health issues and to critique popular portrayals of them, with the ultimate goal of ending mental health stigma in the U.S.

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