Ode to living: a mental health check up 



For immediate access to counseling text COURAGE to 741741

Isabelle Rozansky , Opinions Editor

San Diego Mesa College held it’s Mental Health Conference, Ode to Living: A Conversation, on Friday, Sept. 20. Called so because, “A conversation can make all the difference,” said Aurora San Pedro, one of the conference’s organizers who spoke at the event. What that means is that to someone in distress, or at risk, something as simple as a conversation can be invaluable to that person and their well-being. Part of this conference’s mission was to teach people how to start these conversations, and help someone before it is too late. The event, which took place in room 211 in Mesa Commons, began at 7:30 a.m., and visitors were welcomed into the room and greeted by a Parisian-style cafe theme, including a French breakfast complete with mini Eiffel Tower centerpieces on every white tablecloth-covered table.

Activities began with the sound of a staff member using a singing bowl, silencing the room. Attendees were coached through meditation and on how to set their intentions for the day, all to the sound of several singing bowls throughout the room. The day’s agenda was explained shortly after, followed by a few words from San Pedro about her reasons for the conference, including why the Parisian theme was chosen. She explained that the Eiffel Tower means unbreakable love, and that because the history of the Eiffel Tower is a history of liberation, it was the perfect symbol to encourage “the liberation of ourselves, our hearts and our minds.”

The events that followed included a drum circle consisting of drums, egg shakers, paddle drums and tambourines put on by Resounding Joy Inc., a music therapy program based in San Diego, and a panel with student members of Active Minds, a nonprofit focused on raising mental health awareness among college students. The organization has clubs on many campuses. The students on the panel discussed some of the benefits of being a member, such as getting to help others on a more consistent level, answered questions, gave advice on helping others in distress, and how students can help themselves during mental distress. One of the questions answered was “How to help someone who is immediately at risk for suicide?”. President of Active Minds at Mesa, Jacob Babauta, answered with the information that there is free mental health counseling here at Mesa, as well as information for a crisis text line.

After the panel, all the attendees at the event were given the option to choose out of three different “breakout sessions”. Session 1 was focused on suicide prevention with survivors of suicide loss, was about The Center of San Diego, an LGBT organization dedicated to helping the youth and all members of its community. Session 3 included speakers from Al-Anon, a program focused on recovery and care for friends and families of alcoholics. These sessions were followed by another included meal, and music by the DJ, Urban Beats, an organization focused on music programs for “transitional-age youth”.

Ode to Living: A Conversation was attended by students, faculty, and even those just seeking information about mental health anywhere. Sara Davis, a University of California San Diego graduate, attended the conference to seek more information to help with her non-profit organization that she stated “focuses on community well-being”. This is an example of the outreach this program succeeded in.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Sometimes, something as simple as a conversation can help someone at risk. Ode to Living: A Conversation was dedicated to educating people on how to start a conversation with others and how to know when you need one yourself. This event was an invaluable resource at a time with these statistics, especially during college, a common stress-inducing time in a person’s life.

One of the things emphasized throughout the conference was the availability of free mental health counseling in Student Health Services here at Mesa. Additionally, the information was given for a crisis text line, for immediate access to counseling one need only text COURAGE to 741741.