On February 18th PEP Talk, short for Psychoeducational Programming, hosted its 3rd annual event Elephant in The Room in Live Oak. The walls were adorned with art and all of the tables had coloring pages and colored pencils for guests to busy themselves with throughout the evening.
The event served as a safe space for people to learn more about mental health and break the stigma surrounding it. Jilianne Lung, a member of PEP, said that they serve as the branch between the CAPS center and the student body, “We act like that medium ground that advocates for students to come to CAPS and share our own experiences and we advocate for mental health awareness and mental health advocacy” Lung said.
CAPS is the Counseling And Psychological Services center at FAU that provides free counseling to students.
They kicked the event off with an informational slideshow about mental health and the different types of mental health disorders such as Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. They also had Nikki Saltzburg, a counselor for CAPS, speak about the on-campus psychological resources.
“This whole event is based around the stigma of mental health and addressing the elephant in the room which is the thing that’s never said but exists”, said Lung.
The event was hosted by senior and elementary education major Joshua Stewart, “I like what this event stands for. Mental health is something that is not seen as important, especially in the black community. It’s kind of pushed off to the side so I wanted to be a part of something that brought more awareness to the cause,” Stewart said.
Following the powerpoint, PEP took everyone back to high school for a mental health-themed KAHOOT! With the top five winners winning prizes.
Following this, performers took the stage performing spoken word poetry and singing songs all with the theme of mental health. “A lot of performers are sharing their own stories so it’s a very vulnerable space but in the end that’s what everyone needs to feel better” said Lung.
There were over 90 students in attendance. “It was so great to have such amazing attendance and it was really nice to see so many people rallying around this cause because mental health is so important especially to college students. I hope to see more events like this happen more often,” said Rachelle Saint Louis who serves as PEP’s Director.
Elephant in the Room gave artists a platform to showcase their work and allowed attendees to have a relaxing and educational evening. Events like Elephant in the Room help inform the public about the mental health resources FAU offers and helps reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
“Everyone goes through their own struggles and it’s not really something that’s encouraged and advocated for. We hope that with events such as this more people will come forward and not be ashamed to get help” said Lung.