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Friday open mic: NIU can ‘Say It Out Loud,’ share words, music on mental health issues

September 20, 2012
Joel Filmore

Joel Filmore

After a week of free events designed to inspire the NIU community to SAY IT OUT LOUD, the campaign team is inviting all community members to a night where they can do just that.

As the final event of the week, a Mental Health Open Mic Night is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday, Sept 21, in the Diversions Lounge in the Holmes Student Center.

NIU students, staff, and community members are invited to share stories, poems, and music covering mental health topics. Joel Filmore, a former entertainer in the LGBT community turned doctoral candidate in the counseling program, is set to host.

Performances by the Awakenings Project of Elgin will be featured throughout the night. Snacks and soda will be provided. Sign-ups begin at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome.

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s time that we stood up and declared with one strong voice that we support those who are suffering in silence,” Filmore said. “This initiative is so vitally important to the NIU community, as well as the DeKalb community at large. People often suffer in silence with mental illness out of fear and shame; we need to send a message that we care, and you no longer have to live out your days in silence.”

‘Say It Out Loud’ logoNIU’s SAY IT OUT LOUD campaign, led by counseling professors Charlie E. Myers and Toni R. Tollerud, hosted a week of events that were free and open to all. They included a keynote presentation, a film showing and discussion, an art show, and discussion tables in the Holmes Student Center.

As a part of the initiative, the NIU SIOL staff collected stories from NIU members who recovered from mental illness. Their full stories are available on a website that was created by the grant team. The stories have a common theme – the person suffered in silence until they chose to SAY IT OUT LOUD, and then things got better.

“We want to give people a safe place to talk about mental health,” said Elisa Woodruff, the graduate assistant who has coordinated the campaign for Tollerud and Myers. “The overwhelming response to our programming has demonstrated how badly people want to talk their experiences and share their incredible recovery stories. The open mic will give people yet another safe venue to do so.”

For more information about classroom presentations or to schedule a Mental Health First Aid training for your department or community group, contact Elisa Woodruff at [email protected].