There is power in sharing one’s own story, and it can be healing. A WSU organization is hosting an event to give 10 to 15 students a platform where they can share a snapshot of their mental health journey.
The Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Organization created the event Coug Voices to help build a sense of community among WSU students and foster resilience for those who are struggling with their mental health, said Reanne Cunningham Chilton, clinical psychology graduate student and president of the organization.
Having students share their own stories about their mental health will help destigmatize discussions about mental health, she said.
“We’re all susceptible to struggling,” Cunningham Chilton said. “This isn’t something that should have stigma attached to it.”
Coug Voices is open to any WSU student who is able to physically be on Pullman’s campus for the event, she said. Participating students will perform a six to eight-minute talk or poem about a snapshot of their mental health journey. About 10 to 15 students will be selected to perform.
Students must submit their talk or poem in advance to the event’s organizers to ensure the story is appropriate and the student is comfortable with what they will be sharing, she said.
“If someone’s going to share something really, really personal, I want to make sure that I talk to them first,” Cunningham Chilton said. “I don’t want students to be put in a position where they might have shared something and then regret it.”
Students should consider applying even if they do not know if their story is a “good fit,” she said. Cunningham Chilton and other Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Organization members participating in the event are available to answer questions about the submission forms and the event.
“You’re not … pigeon holed into it just by reaching out to us,” she said. “We want to help people feel comfortable and ready.”
Students can fill out a submission form on the event’s website.
Participating students and organizing members will be following strict COVID-19 protocols during the event, Cunningham Chilton said. Students will be required to wear masks, socially distance, fill out a daily attestation and have their temperatures checked.
It is unlikely students will have to wear masks while presenting because they will be alone on stage, but this can change if the situation calls for it, Cunningham Chilton said.
Cunningham Chilton said people watching the event from home will also hopefully engage in healing.
“You never know who needed to hear … your little nuggets of wisdom,” she said. “We all have so much wisdom to offer. We all have been navigating life and figuring things out. And I firmly believe that everyone has something to offer other people.”
Cunningham Chilton will be hosting the event. She will also be sharing her own snapshot at the beginning of the event.
“I want to mirror the vulnerability that I’ve asked other people to participate in,” she said.
She said she already has some of her snapshot prepared, but it is not done yet. Everyone struggles with mental health, and she is no exception.
“As a student therapist … I’m sort of expected to be the epitome of mental health,” she said. “I want to challenge that.”
Coug Voices is the first university-wide event the Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Organization ever hosted.
Coug Voices is sponsored by the Coug Parents Foundation, which provided about $3,000 for the event. The funds will be used for advertisement, the creation of a backdrop, and pay for staff members who will be running the event’s audio and visual components.
Coug Voices will be livestreamed on Youtube at 4 p.m. April 13 from the Compton Union Building’s Auditorium.
More information about the event can be found on its website.