Pierce College students, staff, faculty attend mental illness film festival

Students, staff and faculty at Pierce College gained a new view of mental illnesses from a film that premiered in the Great Hall this past week.

“A New State of Mind: Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness” was the film that premiered on April 23 and it addressed the stereotypes that are often shared of mental ill people.

Attending the event were several students, professors and survivors that have suffered from mental illnesses.

Paul Gilmore, who appeared in the film, was the guest speaker at the event. He shared his battles, troubles of sexual abuse and other things that haunted him with the attendees.

Gilmore stated the necessity that mental ill people talk with someone.

“My support group loved me until I could love myself, ” Gilmore said.

Students voiced concerns and asked questions about cures in hopes of finding new ways to cope and overcome their illnesses.

“Mental illness can be a gift,” he said. “If we haven’t experienced despair, we would never experience how beautiful joy is.”

Gilmore felt it was important for students to know that most mental illnesses do not develop until the early 20’s.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel if you have a will in your heart,” he said.

“It was phenomenal,” said Beth Benne, director of the Health Center. “I got him through Allen Glass who got Paul to come.”

Benne explained that the Pierce Health Center has clinical psychologist who set aside up to 28 hours of each week for students, but the time slots fill up quickly.

One Pierce student, Oshea Chilton, shared his battle with depression, ultimately losing everything and becoming homeless.

“I was depressed for a long time ever since I lost my mother and grandmother both to illness,” Chilton said. “I have experience talking to therapists, I’ve experienced being homeless for three years. I wasn’t able to focus or function,” he said.

Talking to a therapist seemed to help Chilton to get along, he said.

The film prompted students to ask questions on how to deal with someone who is mentally ill and some students sought answers for their own personal battles.

Students looking for a session with a professional in the health center should start now trying to schedule accordingly for next semester, said Benne.

The film festival shed light on the stigmas of the mentally ill and also encouraged students across campus to raise awareness on mental health.

“Sometimes being a good listener is all it takes,” said Benne.