It was December 5, 2016, there was one microphone, a room full of people and the leaders of our four councils stood at the front of a podium in the Michigan Union. Before them in this same room had been speeches, assemblies, dinners, and events over the course of the 99 years the building has stood. But this day was a first. Our community was holding the first ever Greek Life Mental Health Speakout.
As the leaders began to speak a silence fell over the room and an emotion-filled tone emerged. Students were there to break history. As one of those leaders, former Panhellenic President Lexi Wung stood in front of the podium, facing an audience full of faces both recognizable and not. Lexi said "I was scared. I had always been nervous to give speeches,being Panhel president had helped, but to talk about such a sensitive topic in a way that hadn’t been done before was terrifying for me. At the center of my fears was the feeling deep down that I needed to tell my story". The leaders gave an opening address outlying why the event was planned, the necessity of confidentiality and support, and the diversity with which individuals could share their story. Then the floor was opened. The first few minutes of complete silence were almost comforting in a way, a group recognition of all of the fears combined into a dead silence. But then it was broken as a sorority woman walked up to the podium and began to share her story of mental illness. Lexi said "I was inspired by her courage and honesty, and would continue to be inspired as person after person took the podium".
Mental health exists, but when you’re battling a mental illness it can seem as though you’re the only one in the world. The four Greek Councils wanted to do something about this and work to break the stigma surrounding mental health. It started with the Mental Health Speakout in December, and now is continuing with a video campaign showing how each council has unique concerns when it comes to mental illness. After the Mental Health Speakout in December the community realized how powerful it can be to just talk about the topic with other people.
Students within the Greek Community wanted to find a way to get discussions started on the largest scale they could think of; and what better way than with a series of videos? So as the release of videos begins, they call upon everyone in our community and beyond to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
Because, in the end, it’s truly #timetotalk.
The campaign began with the release of a video by the Multicultural Greek Council on March 29, 2017. Within the Multicultural Greek Council community students are told anxiety is the norm and sometimes they don’t have the words to translate struggles.
Challenged by the Multicultural Greek Council, Michigan Panhellenic created a video which was released March 31,2017 that shares the stories of two members of the community who represent many of the concerns they face. In Panhellenic organizations depression, eating disorders, and anxiety are all of concern. It is Panhellenic's hope that through the stories of these women other Panhellenic women will join them in speaking out about their mental health struggles.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council met the challenge and release a video on April 2, 2017. Click here to listen to members of the NPHC community discuss mental health
As the last video in a series by all four Greek councils at the University of Michigan and challenged by the NPHC Council, the Interfraternity Council created a video relaying the message that there is always a healthy way to cope with whatever issues you might be facing. In addition, this video highlights our council’s goal to get a trained mental health point person into each one of our chapters.
On April 5, 2017 at 8:00pm in the Koessler Room of the Michigan League, Greek Life will once again host a Mental Health Speakout. We welcome all to come and share or listen to stories by fellow peers. Together, we can end the stigma associated with mental health. It’s #timetotalk.”
Please join us in talking about this topic that concerns not only the Greek Community but the University of Michigan community as a whole.