By Samantha Oakley ’20
One of the many staples of Providence College is the variety of groups on campus.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) support group is an up-and-coming group joining campus in October. NAMI, based in Rhode Island, is partnering with a group of PC students to hold meetings, inviting students to discuss the stigma surrounding mental health.
One of the founding members, Laura Arango ’20, explained that she, as well as others, including Jamie Rush ’20, Alex Shute ’20, and Jackson Gany ’19 will be going through a training process that will have them become facilitators rather than therapists. Doing this will allow the students at PC to join in on a conversation constructed by peers in a more comfortable environment.
The organization aims to support students struggling with mental health. Arango explains, “We are not therapists. We are here to support you. If you need something, you can talk to us. Not you need to do this, this, and this. We want to be able to provide support for our peers.”
She continued on to say, “Mental illness is a sad thing to talk about and it can often be something people do not openly talk about because they may not think they have it or that they can talk about it.”
When asked what was different about NAMI, Arango said, “There is nothing like this on Providence College’s campus, yes there this the health center but this is completely different.”
She continued, saying, “Since this is run by students, we are hoping that more students would want to come take part in this because we are all kind of on the same level. And as said before, we aren’t telling people what they need to do. But rather be there if they need to talk about their experiences and what they are going through.”
NAMI’s goal is to see the individual first and not the illness. Students are trying to understand that mental illness has environmental triggers or can be caused by traumatic events. “We aim for better coping skills by findings right in experience with others,” said Arango.
Last year, PC Active Minds hosted an event that brought the Rhode Island affiliation to Providence College. This event capitalized the statement that mental illness is a universal condition.
The affiliation brought people with different types of mental illnesses together to discuss their own experiences. It is experiences and events like this that the new Providence College chapter hopes to pursue.
NAMI’s first meeting will be on Wednesday, October 3, from 7:30-9 p.m. in the soft lounge in Slavin.