“Nobody Talks About This”

“I need to talk about it so other people can talk about it.” — Padriac Lillis on writing and performing in a play about suicide.

Episode 6

Episode 6 of Michayla Savitt’s The Scoop on Mental Health features Brooklyn-based artistic director Padriac Lillis, who discusses Hope You Get To Eleven, his play inspired by a former student’s suicide and his own struggle with depression. In “Nobody Talks About This,” Padriac explores the emotional process of bringing the difficult subject matter to the stage. “I have a story to tell, not because it’s my story, because I need to talk about it so other people can talk about it,” he says.

6pod“Nobody Talks About This”  [Episode 6] Listen

Padriac Lillis wrote and performed a play about his struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, prompting conversations about mental illness from audience members and people in his life.

“Check It At the Door”

“You’re never not yourself.” — Actor Brooke Shilling on mental health and the art of performing

In Episode 5 of The Scoop on Mental Health, Michayla sits down with Brooke Shilling, an actress who delves into the mental energy and awareness needed when she’s performing. In “Check it at the Door,” Brooke describes the difficulty of putting real life aside when she has a role to play, but how she holds onto her own experiences in that process. “Transformative acting is amazing, but you’re never not yourself,” Brooke says. “We are the sum of our own experiences even when portraying experiences and people that we’re not.”

 “Check it at the Door” [Episode 5] Listen

Actor Brooke Shilling discusses the effect acting has on mental health—it’s not easy to put aside your life when you’re performing, yet holding onto experiences helps her bring real life to her characters.

Ithaca Is Books

Ithaca is No. 1. The financial news and opinion website 24/7 Wall St. designated Ithaca as the most well-read city in America.


Buffalo Street Books

The rankings were based on literacy measures such as the presence of higher learning institutions and public libraries, and population education levels.

“You can’t be the #1 Most Well-Read City in the U.S. without a sweet little independent community bookstore!” Buffalo Street Books boasted on Facebook. “And some colleges and our fantastic TCPL (Tompkins County Public Library).”

24/7 Wall St. found that Ithaca has 28 public libraries (26.7 per 100,000 residents), and that 94.6 percent of Ithacans had earned a high school diploma.

Other locales making it into the Top 10: Pittsfield, MA; Urbana-Champaign, IL; Portland, ME; and Santa Fe, NM.

H/T Buffalo Street Books


Autumn Leaves



The Bookery

Time to Reflect

Clark Atrium was abuzz. The chatter of students fostering true connections created a steady hum throughout the building. I cannot adequately describe how excited I was during the Cornell chapter of The Reflect Organization’s final meeting of the fall semester in December. We had over 170 students in attendance, eating dinner together and openly discussing their lives in peer-to-peer groups that covered topics from school to stress to relationships and more.


Reflect at Cornell Co-President Jack Burger (’19) and Treasurer Don Moore (’20) on the Arts Quad

This was double the number of students who showed up for our first meeting in October. But the most rewarding part was the amazing feedback. One of my friends who came on a whim found me as I was cleaning up. “I never thought I’d like this sort of thing,” Darren told me. “But now that I’ve done it, I want to keep coming.” He later asked how he could get even more involved in supporting college students’ mental health through a leadership position with Reflect at Cornell. Now that is the kind of response that really gets me going.

Reflect is a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the mental health of students and de-stigmatizing mental health care. Jared Fenton began Reflect as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 following the suicide of his Penn classmate, Madison Holleran. Maddie Feldman and I launched Reflect at Cornell, and became its first co-presidents, at the start of the 2017–18 academic year after seeing how mental health issues were plaguing our campus.

Students at Cornell are known to exhibit Duck Syndrome—you act like everything is alright even though things are tumultuous beneath the surface, like a duck gliding smoothly across the water while actually paddling furiously below. With the heavy demand for appointments at Cornell Health’s Counseling & Psychological Services, and the long wait times involved, it becomes very hard for students to find a place on campus where they feel they can be their true selves. Despite outward appearances, loneliness abounds. The American College Health Association says that more than 60 percent of college students report feeling “very isolated.”

At Reflect, we’re determined to do something about this. We provide students with an opportunity to take off their social media masks and share what’s really going on in their lives. By making it cool to attend a Reflect dinner—and we dish up some pretty tasty pizza (and other meals, depending on the month)—we are striving to facilitate true connections that relieve the isolation.

The response on campus has been inspiring. Hundreds of students have embraced Reflect’s message of openness, honesty, and mutual support. At our dinners, students are engaging in real conversations, and exchanging contact information to meet up later and continue them. Cornell media has taken note of the movement, featuring Reflect at Cornell in the Cornell Daily Sun, Slope Media, and the Dyson Business Feed.

It’s encouraging to see how Reflect has grown from a few dozen Penn students just three years ago to enriching the lives of students at a growing number of other universities across the country. That’s empowering. Here at Cornell, we’re down for another semester and more of making connections, having open conversations, and working on our mental health together. And we’ll continue to serve some pretty good pizza, too!

—By Jack Burger

Jack Burger (’19) is co-president of Reflect at Cornell

Next Reflect at Cornell meeting: 5 p.m., Monday, February 5, Clark Atrium of the Physical Sciences Building.


Thank You, GreenStar Family

The Sophie Fund is proud to be a recipient in GreenStar Natural Food Market’s “Bring Your Own Bag, Use it for Good” donations program. Last week, GreenStar delivered a check to The Sophie Fund for $290.10—the result of $0.05 donations by 5,802 GreenStar customers.


GreenStar’s support for The Sophie Fund’s work for improved youth mental health in the Ithaca community doesn’t stop there. The coop is the prime sponsor of the Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest organized by The Sophie Fund each October. GreenStar also welcomed Cornell University and Ithaca College students into its stores last fall to collect donations supporting mental health in Tompkins County. The students raised a total of $829.50, which was presented to the Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service last month.

Established in 2014, the Bring Your Own Bag, Use it For Good program has raised more than $10,000 for local nonprofits ranging from the SPCA of Tompkins County to the Cayuga Nature Center. The program, which gives customers a 5-cent donation token for providing their own grocery bags, has also spared the environment some 230,000 carrier sacks.

Thank you, GreenStar family!

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