On Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. hosted the event Writing Your Own Destiny: Pen to Paper in Miron Student Center, Room 315. Students filled the room to learn about mental health through a game of Jeopardy followed by a creative workshop.
The event began at 8 p.m. and concluded at 10 p.m. while light refreshments were provided.
Writing Your Own Destiny: Pen to Paper began with everyone in the room introducing themselves and sharing their experiences with mental illness.
This led to a game of Jeopardy pertaining to the topic. The room was divided in half to create two teams. After the game, everyone received complimentary candy for their participation.
A creative workshop was held in which students had the ability to choose one of three questions and answer them in a poetic or song form. Some volunteered to share what they wrote.
"Through my own personal experience, I was diagnosed with a few mental illnesses," said Charles Curtis III, a member of Phi Beta Sigma and Kean University alumnus. "Writing has helped me overcome a lot of situations that were mentally tasking."
Curtis is also a representative of Broken Minds, a community based organization utilizing art therapy that helps people who suffer from mental illnesses in urban communities.
"I wanted to be able to project how I felt through servicing others by utilizing my skills as a poet who has overcome mental illness," continued Curtis.
Mental illness is extremely common. Per data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, one in five adults in the U.S. will experience mental illness annually.
19.1 percent of adults in the U.S. experienced a mental health disorder in 2018, which was a total of 47.6 million people. 4.6 percent of adults in the U.S. experienced severe mental illness, a total of 11.4 million people.
The most common mental illnesses are depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. Mental illness has a strong prevalence in adults who are multiracial (26.8 percent) or in the LGBT community (37.4 percent).
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34 years old in the U.S. 46 percent of people who died from suicide were diagnosed with a mental health condition. Since 2001, the national suicide rate has increased by 31 percent.
Mental illness also has an adverse effect. Those with depression have 40 percent higher risk chance of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than others who are not clinically depressed. With severe mental disorders, this percentage is higher. Depression is known to be the leading cause of disability worldwide.
The onset delay between mental illness symptoms and receiving treatment is 11 years. In 2018, 43.3 percent of adults with mental illness sought treatment whereas 64.1 percent of adults with severe mental illness have.
Overcoming mental illness can be done through medication, therapy, exercise, journaling and finding a support group. Note that everyone's situation may be different and there are methods which work and some that don't.
The Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity is an organization that exemplifies the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship, and service. It aims to give its members the skills that it needs to deliver service to their communities in hopes they will return and bestow others with the same knowledge. More information about the fraternity can be found on their Cougar Link web page. They can also be reached at email@example.com.