Breaking the stigma through poetry

As the semester comes to a close for Bradley students, finals, projects and the many stressors of college life are all taking over. The Activities Council of Bradley University (ACBU) decided to use poetry to bring more attention to mental health issues on college campuses, came to speak to Bradley students about the importance of mental health Tuesday, April 25 in the Marty Theater. The poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan kicked the night off by talking about his life story, more details read here.

“I was originally failing out of high school English class,” Fable said. “Thank God for incredible educators, I had a teacher make a deal with me that if I turned in a piece of creative writing everyday that they would pass me. At the end of the year … she sent me to a writer’s camp and the Ann Arbor slam team was running it. They are the ones who gave me the name Fable, and they are the one’s who made me fall in love with it.”

After discussing his background with the audience, the Michigan-native dove into his poetry, which touched on many problems college students deal with.

 “From having mental issues to having issues at home with domestic violence, going into the struggles that you face by being a person of color,” Jordan Wallace said. “There’s a lot of things that he discussed that I really appreciated, and it really makes me feel understood.”

Fable said his goal for the event was to change the way mental health is viewed and handled on college campuses.

“[I hope] people get more comfortable talking about what they’re going through,” Fable said. “Your chances that you are going to self-harm are so much less if you talk about it, it’s like 50 percent less if you’re talking about and vocalizing that you’re going through something. A lot of campuses across America don’t have great resources for students that are struggling. So if we can just destigmatize people talking about it, that would be a huge help.

Jon Bohnert, the ACBU Coordinator of Critical Issues, said he hopes to bring in more talent like Fable to address these issues on campus.

“Mental health isn’t something people generally talk about and Fable really does an amazing job highlighting that in our society,” Bohnert said. “Fable is currently our only speaker in the specifically mental health category, but we hope to bring more amazing acts like him.”

According to Fable, the most important step for students to take now is to encourage these discussions and create a different culture.

“If [students] just felt comfortable talking about [these issues] and that they weren’t going to be made fun of, weren’t going to be drug through the mud for doing so and if the people around them are actually going to lift them up when they do talk about it,” Fable said. “So just getting that conversation going and breaking that stigma.”

Wallace said Fable’s story helped her feel less alone and she hopes students begin opening up to one another about their circumstances and offer their support.

“If you have a friend, or if you yourself, are struggling with depression, or anxiety or any of those problems … open up and talk to someone about it,” Wallace said. “Hearing someone else talk about their problems and the things that they’ve experienced, it makes you feel more compelled, more understood, more willing to open up to others.”