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‘Steps for a Mighty Mind’ promotes mental wellness

Published on October 03, 2022

‘Steps for a Mighty Mind’ promotes mental wellness

Guest speaker Wes Woodson.
Guest speaker Wes Woodson

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted “Steps for a Mighty Mind” on Sept. 29 to bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention. The event was organized by Eastern student Kalagena Sullivan, who was motivated by her own struggles with mental health and the passing away of a fellow student.

The event began with guest speaker Wes Woodson, who recalled growing up Black in predominantly white Sharon, MA. He felt that he “had to work twice as hard” just to be seen as good enough as everyone else. He was willing “to spend anything, to do anything, to be like everyone else,” but a negative voice in his head told him reasons he wasn’t good enough. He felt that he was working hard, only to be a failure.

Woodson spoke of avoiding anxiety, which made it come back stronger. In college, he stayed busy to avoid being present with negative feelings. He gravitated toward people who told him he was “good enough,” such as a professor named Dr. O and, later, his girlfriend. Her praise made Woodson, who was desperate for validation, blind to her abusive behavior.

He became a victim of domestic violence, spurring another bout of anxiety: “How am I gonna tell my dad my girlfriend hit me?” Eventually, Woodson went to an outpatient program and left with two pieces of advice: “you’re not weak for getting help” and “we’re not meant to suffer alone.” His overarching message to the audience was, “you are enough.”

Woodson shared that his mental health struggles inspired him to follow a career in public speaking. “I did speech debate in high school and didn’t think it could be a career,” he said. Inspired to help people through speaking, Woodson’s goal is to help even one person feel “less alone, less ashamed, more empowered.”

Eastern's "Steps for a Mighty Mind" event.
Eastern's "Steps for a Mighty Mind" event.

After Woodson’s speech, resources for students’ mental health were shared. Bryce Crapser of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Kate McNulty of Natchaug Hospital shared information about programs on and off campus for students who are struggling with mental health.

During the “speak out” portion of the event, students were invited to share stories of their mental health struggles. “Words hurt – a lot,” said one student. “Words carry a certain kind of weight.”

Sullivan, the event organizer, then shared her story, in which she echoed a sentiment from Woodson that finding the right therapist can be difficult. Through this activity, Sullivan said that she “wanted to open the dialogue” so students did not feel alone in their struggles.

Written by Noel Teter