A Concert for Mental Health… and Hope

Ithaca College’s music students and faculty staged an unforgettable show featuring Broadway hits, old favorites, and even a Handel aria Tuesday evening November 14 in “Music for the Mind: Mental Health Awareness Concert.”

The event in Ford Hall at the Whalen School of Music was the brainchild of Megan Jones, a junior voice student, who was inspired to “do something” after a fellow student and dorm mate attempted suicide earlier this year. The Ithaca College community quickly rallied to the cause.

“Nobody should feel as alone as my dear friend did, and I so strongly believe that music is a perfect way to bring attention, raise awareness, and comfort anyone around to hear it,” Megan told The Sophie Fund.

“Music for the Mind” was a tour de force showcasing IC’s exceptional instrumental, voice, and dance talent in nine musical pieces, including “Make Someone Happy,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “Rise Up,” “Lascia Chio Pianga,” “Please Stay,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and “You Will be Found.”

“A strength of the Ithaca College community is our care for one another,” Deborah Harper, director of IC’s Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness, said in opening remarks to the audience. “What you are about to experience is one example of care in action. Music uplifts us, soothes us, inspires us, invites us to feel deeply. I would like to thank Megan for bringing her vision—’Music for the Mind’—to life tonight. As we spend the next hour together, I want to invite you to reflect on the value of our connections to life and to the people we hold dear. Open yourself to the music and allow your heart and mind to be moved.”

Before the curtain rose, Megan Jones introduced her friend Lola, who spoke eloquently and powerfully about her experience, and addressed others “who might be struggling right now”:

“This concert is for you. You might be used to being spoken around. For people to slightly touch the subject of your life, and just as quickly to draw back. For people to talk to the helpers instead of the people who need help.

“I am not you. Your symptoms are yours. You are your own person. But also you are not alone. All in all, you aren’t. You are a human in a world full of humans. You are not going crazy. You are suffering from an illness. You are living through it. You’re doing the best you can, and that really is enough. I don’t know you or what you are going through, but I know you can get through it. You’re strong, you’re trying, you’re alive, you’re here.

“Your disorder or illness is not just an excuse. You are more than enough. It may take a while to get out of this funk. It may just be something you deal with forever. But you will overall get better. You will learn to cope better. You will make friends. You will lose friends. It might be hard. You’ll continue to learn and you’ll continue to grow. One day, I truly think, the good days will start to outweigh the bad.

“Remember that people can’t know what you are going through until you tell them. That’s still something I’m trying to learn and get used to. You need to learn to take care of yourself at the end of the day.”

Click here to watch the “Music for the Mind” concert

Photos by Sarah Horbacewicz

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]

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“Please Stay,” by Jake Runstad. Performed by the Ithaca College Choir, directed by Janet Galván, professor of performance studies.

 

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“Please Stay,” by Jake Runstad. Performed by the Ithaca College Choir, directed by Janet Galván, professor of performance studies.

 

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“You Will be Found,” from Dear Evan Hansen, by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

 

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“Rise Up,” by Andra Day. Performed by Laurel Albinder and IC Voicestream.

 

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“My Oh My,” by Punch Brothers. Performed by Jonah Bobo, John Bourdelais, Tom Brody, Marybeth MacKay, and Nicky Young

 

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“You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from Carousel by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Performed by Deborah Montgomery-Cove, professor of performance studies.

 

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“Finding Hope,” by Ava Maria Safai. Performed by the IC Unbound Dance Company.

 

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“Lascia Chio Pianga,” from Rinaldo, by George Frideric Handel. Performed by Ivy Walz, associate professor of performance studies, with string quartet and dancers.

 

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“Lascia Chio Pianga,” from Rinaldo, by George Frideric Handel. Performed by Ivy Walz, associate professor of performance studies, with string quartet and dancers.

 

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“Make Someone Happy,” by Jule Styne. Performed by Marc Webster, assistant professor of performance studies, (with Megan Jones and Christopher Zemliauskas).

 

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“Make Someone Happy,” by Jule Styne. Performed by Megan Jones, IC voice student, (with Marc Webster and Christopher Zemliauskas).

Music for the Mind

On November 14 at Ithaca College’s Whalen School of Music, come join students, faculty, and community in the effort to raise awareness for mental health, spread resourceful information, and send a message of hope and inspiration.

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Click Here to Download the Poster

Last spring semester, I was in my dorm building when a floor-mate of mine needed a call to public safety due to self-harm and attempted suicide. Luckily, she got the help she needed, is back at school, and now one of my dear friends.

After being a part of that experience, I felt the need to do something about it. I came up with an idea of putting together a “Mental Health Awareness Concert.” I know very well that music has the power to bring people together, raise awareness, and comfort anyone around to hear it.

The Music for the Mind concert takes place Tuesday, November 14 at 8:15 p.m. in Ford Hall in Whalen School of Music. It will include performances from Marc Webster, Ivy Walz, and Patrice Pastore, Ithaca College Choir, Voicestream, ICUnbound, Rock Hard Dance Company, and many other IC students.

Prior to the concert, Ithaca College and local mental health organizations will set up in the lobby outside Ford Hall. Active Minds, Mental Health for Musicians, The Sophie Fund, and IC’s Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness will have tables with their representatives, goals, and information.

After the concert, in Hockett Green Room, everyone is invited for a panel discussion led by Active Minds, a representative from the IC Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness, and a voice faculty representative. Audience members are welcome to listen to personal stories as well as share their own.

Concert attendees will be invited to consider donations to The Sophie Fund to support mental health initiatives aiding young people in the Ithaca area.

Our goal for this evening is to support and inspire. By addressing an issue at hand with care, helpful information, and music, we are unstoppable!

—By Megan Jones

Megan Jones is a voice major at Ithaca College

Students and The Sophie Fund

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week at Cornell University, but for some college students in Ithaca, it’s seems like every week is mental health week. In a good way!

The Sophie Fund is privileged to partner on a host of projects with student organizations at Cornell and Ithaca College. Active Minds at Ithaca College, and Cornell Minds Matter, Alpha Phi Omega–Gamma Chapter and Phi Sigma Pi at Cornell all played vital roles in the 2017 Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest in the Commons on October 14.

APO-PSPVolunteers from Cornell University’s Alpha Phi Omega–Gamma Chapter and Phi Sigma Pi

Besides volunteering to register contestants, inventory the cupcake entries, participate in preliminary judging (okay, hard work!), and clean up the Bernie Milton Pavilion afterwards, students participated in a related fundraising effort for suicide prevention. In one week alone in September, APO Gamma collected more than $500 in donations. APO Gamma also delivered excess cupcake entries to the Friendship Center at the Ithaca Rescue Mission for the homeless.

Speaking at the cupcake awards ceremony, Winnie Ho, vice president of service for APO Gamma, said that working for mental health causes was one of her fraternity’s top priorities. Here’s what she had to say:

“I’d like to take this time to talk about the partnership that we have developed with The Sophie Fund over the past year. It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of our chapter to get involved in all the mental health opportunities that exist in this town.

“For us, service remains one of our most important cardinal principles. We’ve seen an overwhelming response from many of our brothers to support for opportunities within APO and other opportunities outside of APO to serve and support their friends, their loved ones, and their community.

“At Cornell it is Mental Health Awareness Week, and APO Gamma is hosting many events, and so are many other student organizations. Which helps prove the point: anyone can get involved in mental health. You can start by asking yourself, asking your friends, taking care of the people around you. You don’t need to organize anything enormous to start improving the mental health of other people. Thank you so much for coming out today. Happy cupcakes!”

DSC_8712 copyWinnie Ho of Cornell University’s APO Gamma Chapter

Cooper Walter, president of Cornell Minds Matter, staffed a table at the cupcake contest to engage contestants and passersby on mental health issues. During the awards ceremony, he issued a special appeal to young people in Ithaca. Here’s what he had to say:

“In the couple minutes we have here today, I want to talk about mental health and young people. College age—18 to 24—is a pivotal turning point for everyone’s lives. It is at that age that most of the mental health disorders onset. And it is the age that we build the life skills and the coping strategies that set us up for success.

“At Cornell, 25 percent of all students have a mental health disorder, but only 30 percent [of those] seek help. I want to challenge every one here—especially the young people—to take a moment to engage with mental health. Ask yourself, ‘What does mental health mean to you?’ ‘What is your mental health?’ ‘How can you improve it?’ ‘And what are you going to do—today—to advance mental health and make your life better.’

“I also challenge you to take a moment to engage with your peers. Many friends are struggling with their mental health, or can improve their mental health, but aren’t thinking about it. Today, when you talk to your friends, ask them: ‘How are you doing?’ But don’t just take ‘Oh, I’m good,’ or ‘I’m fine,’ at face value. Ask them, ‘Are you struggling with anything?’ ‘Can I help you in any way?’ ‘Is there anything you’d like to discuss?’

“If we take these small steps, considering what mental health is to us, and reach out to our friends to help them engage with mental health, we can set ourselves up for a successful life, and successful health.”

DSC_8709 copyCooper Walter of Cornell Minds Matter

CMMCornell Minds Matter at the Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest in the Commons

PSPVolunteers from Phi Sigma Pi

APOWinnie Ho and Ivan Rios of APO–Gamma

APO Buttons 092517APO–Gamma brothers collecting donations for suicide prevention in Ho Plaza

AM-greenstar2Members of Active Minds at Ithaca College collecting donations for suicide prevention at GreenStar Natural Foods Market

 

The Ithacan on College Health Leaves of Absence

“Kids on medical leave from the three universities often fall through the cracks.” —David Shapiro, President and CEO of Family and Children’s Service.

Bianca Mestiza of The Ithacan, Ithaca College’s student newspaper, has a comprehensive piece in the latest edition on The Sophie Fund’s proposal to aid students on mental health leaves of absence.

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Excerpts from the article below, but see the whole piece at The Ithacan:

The Sophie Fund, an organization whose focus is to enhance mental health initiatives, released a proposal Aug. 21 aimed to support students who take leaves of absences for mental health reasons from local universities such as Cornell University, Ithaca College and Tompkins Cortland Community College.

The proposal seeks to create an Ithaca community–based program to help college students who on are on mental health leaves of absence. In order to have a successful transition away from college, students need help before, during and after they return from their leave to adjust back to the demand of their academic work, according to the proposal.

The program features a “life coach” who would be a professional in the community employed by a local mental health agency. The life coach would help the students stay connected by holding individual and group meetings. In addition, The Sophie Fund’s website would help the student by giving useful information about local housing options and employment opportunities.

[Scott MacLeod, Sophie’s father and co-founder of The Sophie Fund] said the proposal has been shared with local stakeholders, agencies and campus organizations such as the Active Minds chapter at the college and the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services.

Deborah Harper, director of Ithaca College’s Center for Counseling and Wellness, said in an email that the proposal is a good idea because it benefits students who stay in the area while they are on leave.

MacLeod said that taking a leave of absence can be a very disrupting time for students who make that decision.

“This can be a very disruptive phase in a young person’s life when they have gone off to college … and suddenly they find themselves out a campus … so we have developed a project proposal to provide support to students who take a leave of absence,” he said.

Norbert McCloskey, executive director of the Ithaca Health Alliance, said he thinks the proposal is a good idea, and that he would like to see Cornell University and Ithaca College support it.

“I would like to see both the colleges here in town actually implement the proposal if they can find the means to do that,” McCloskey said.

David Shapiro, president and CEO of Family and Children’s Service, said via email that he is pleased with the proposal and appreciates MacLeod’s efforts to provide services to students who are having a difficult time.

“Kids on medical leave from the three universities often fall through the cracks,” Shapiro said. “I applaud Scott’s efforts to think of a solution to support these vulnerable students.

S. Makai Andrews, co-president of the Active Minds chapter at the college, said the campus should work on providing better assistance to students who take a leave of absence.

“I think that colleges should be better at facilitating the process, whether someone is on leave for their mental health, physical health or other personal reasons,” Andrews said. “The idea of a leave of absence is terrifying to most students because graduating ‘on time’ puts heavy pressure on much of the student body.”

Sophomore Jeewon Yim took a mental health leave of absence for a year after her freshman year and returned home to South Korea during her leave.

“I was mostly depressed about staying in a rural place, “Yim said. “On top of that, I was struggling to figure out what I really wanted to study… These reasons all came up to me as a really big emotional pressure, so I thought I should take a year off and see how my feelings change.”

Yim said she would like to see the campus community reach out to students more to see how they are feeling.

“I think the point is to encourage students and give them confidence that it is OK to ask for help,” she said.

Harper said that CAPS does outreach to students to let them know about their services. They meet with families of incoming students to encourage them to seek support from CAPS, if needed.

MacLeod said he hopes more organizations get involved with the proposal and that students provide input since they will be the ones who will need support.

McCloskey said the community support can help students taking leaves of absence.

“If we can help folks deal with that early on, their quality of life improves, their chances of success in college improves and their long–term success in life will improve,” McCloskey said. “I would like to see [the proposal] move forward and adopted, and I hope that does, indeed, become the case.”

 

Thank You, Active Minds

Congratulations to Active Minds of Ithaca College, the top fundraising team at Saturday’s Out of the Darkness Ithaca Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The 16-member Active Minds Team raised $1,060, followed by $953 by Team Hope, $706 by Bob’s Angels, $700 by Team Scott, and $555 by the Cornell University Childcare Center.

Out of the Darkness walks raise awareness about suicide prevention and raise monies for new research, educational programs, advocacy for public policy, and supporting survivors of suicide loss. This year’s Ithaca Walk raised a total of $9,629.

file7Active Minds of Ithaca College Team

Active Minds Co-President S. Makai Andrews, who served as AM’s Team Captain for the Ithaca Walk, was the third-highest individual fundraiser with $555 in donations. AM Social Media Chair Kristin Butler brought in another $210.

Andrews said she joined the walk wanting to give hope to people who may be battling suicidal feelings. “There is still an incredible degree of shame and disapproval associated with those who struggle with their mental health,” she said. “Though we know what bipolar disorder is now, that doesn’t mean that those experiencing manic or depressive episodes are always given the time off work that they may need. Though we know what depression is, we’re still telling people to perk up.”

Elizabeth Mortlock was the second-highest individual fundraiser with $782 in donations.

The Ithaca Walk’s No. 1 individual fundraiser was Clara Scher, who brought in $825 donations. Scher said she sought to spread awareness and raise money in memory of her friend and teammate Madison Holleran, a 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania track and field student athlete who took her own life in January 2014.

Scher was one of several walkers who said they were driven to help prevent suicide after experiencing the devastating loss of a friend or loved one. “This tragedy exposed the debilitating effects of major depression, and motivated me to devote my career in the field of psychology to help prevent the loss of others to this horrific disease,” Scher said.

Donations to the Ithaca Walk can be made through December 31—click here to contribute through the Active Minds Team.

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]

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S. Makai Andrews and Kristin Butler

 

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Ithaca Walk Registration

 

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Ithaca Walkers gathering at Cass Park

 

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Spreading the message with AFSP merch

 

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Active Minds table at the Ithaca Walk

 

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Out of the Darkness walks

Photos courtesy of Active Minds of Ithaca College