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‘This is Me’: Student Stephanie Cotrone combines skills, passions to create mental health event

This is Me: Anxiety & Depression Awareness Event offered an opportunity for students, faculty and community members to explore options for living with mental illness.

Stephanie Cotrone, a BGSU junior tourism, hospitality and event management major, combined her expertise at event planning with her passion for mental health awareness on Saturday. She said she hoped the event helped people not only learn something but have fun doing it.

“Ultimately my goal in life is to make people happy, and I think this event made people happy, and people for the most part learned something from what I heard people saying,” Cotrone said.

Cotrone put many hours into her research and into pulling together the components of her event. She had representatives from campus and the community to support her event. One of these partners was the Humanities Troupe, a student drama group that works through emotionally challenging situations with theater. 

“We’re basically a group of actors and actresses that tour around campus putting these skits … they basically talk about the tough conversations — the elephant in the room,” Ari Curtis, a sophomore broadcast journalism major said. 

Several people mentioned they enjoyed the performances by the troupe. There were other interactive activities available and testimonies given by students about their own experiences with anxiety, depression and mental illness in general. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness had two tables in the room; both the Wood County chapter and the student run chapter were represented. Students have the opportunity to be involved with either or both free of charge. Both offer peer support for people who have mental illness and for those who support those with a mental illness. 

“We know 1 in 5 individuals are living with mental health conditions. Only 50% of them are getting treatment for it. So that means you probably interact with someone on a daily basis who is struggling. Whether it is you yourself who is living with mental illness or someone you live with or a close friend, we have programs for everyone,” said Jessica Schmitt, NAMI Wood County director.

Cotrone enlisted other student groups to help with this project as well. Kelsey Dietrich, a senior with a double major in psychology and English, was there to represent her work with the Wellness Center on campus. The campus Counseling Center sent one of its counselors, too. Even President Rodney Rogers made an appearance. 

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Cotrone said the idea was a blend of her passion for event planning and the desire to explore aspects of mental illness that she and others she cares about have dealt with over the years. She said she felt this would be a good way to blend her two passions in a way that benefited the greater public. 

“I was trying to erase the stigma associated with healthy coping mechanisms and even the use of escape as coping. Sometimes you have to take some time away to get a fresh take on the problem, to be able to look at it with a fresh set of eyes. Coping and getting through the problem is great, but it’s hard. Sometimes it’s OK to take that break and rest,” Cotrone said.

For more information on mental health or support, the campus Counseling Center can be reached at 419-372-2081 or NAMI at the Wood County Crisis Line 419-502-4673.

 

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