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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, October 2, 2023

Active Minds at Tufts hosts Mental Health Monologues

Kari McNeil, a senior, and Brianna Pastro, a junior, co-presidents of Active Minds at Tufts, pose for a portrait at ‘Mental Health Monologues: Strength in Stories’ in Goddard Chapel on April 9.

Active Minds at Tufts hosted its third annual Mental Health Monologues on Monday night at Goddard Chapel. According to the Active Minds at Tufts Facebook page, Mental Health Monologues is an opportunity for people to share their mental health stories and to bring about awareness and acceptance of mental health challenges. The event featured 15 speakers who either read their own monologue or that of an anonymous writer. More than 150 people were in attendance.

The co-presidents of Active Minds, senior Kari McNeil and junior Brianna Pastro, introduced the speakers.

“We are in awe of the bravery and strength of everyone who contributed a story for this event,” Pastro said in the introductory remarks.

“The stories you will hear tonight are stories of struggle, triumph, recovery and always courage. We accepted all submissions and they are unedited apart from ensuring that they met our safety guidelines,” McNeil said.

The content of the stories included trauma, eating disorders, depression, panic attacks, chronic illness, suicidal ideation and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Multiple resources were available throughout the night, including crisis support lines listed in the program. Additionally, Walker Bristol, Humanist Chaplain, and Nandi Bynoe, Sexual Misconduct Resource Specialist, acted as on-site resources.

Pastro discussed the work that Active Minds put into hosting the event, most notably in reviewing and editing story submissions and balancing authenticity with audience safety.

Sabrina Fleishaker, a first-year who was a reader at the event, shared her experience speaking at the event.

“For the first time, it was definitely surreal. The fact is that so many stories go unheard. Every human experience is valuable. And so, stories need to be heard whether they are from the mouths of the people who wrote them or not,” Fleishaker said.

Ycar Devis, a senior who also read at the event, commented on mental health awareness in the Tufts community.

“I think it’s a really important event that should get more recognition at Tufts. The size of the crowd tonight does indicate that there is a population at Tufts that does care about mental health,” Davis said.

McNeil, who has been involved with Mental Health Monologues for three years, explained what she hopes that audience takes away from the event.

“I want people to heal through community and hear themselves being represented [in these stories] while at the same time hearing others’ struggles and validating them … [Monologues] was just as powerful this time as it was the first time,” McNeil said.

Following the event, audience members were invited to decompress in Eaton Hall with snacks and discussion.