Let’s Chat About Mental Health

Now that we’ve gotten our first semester of college under our belts, let’s talk about stress.



I don’t know if it’s a byproduct of being in the honors college or if there’s just something in the water at Penn State, but I’ve seen more stressed out teenagers in the past six months than I’ve ever seen in my life.  With regular midterms, papers, and extracurricular demands, college students are under a lot of pressure.  The wailing of ambulance sirens is frighteningly common in Happy Valley, marking the consequences of another student pushed past their breaking point.  It seems to me there’s a problem we’re not dealing with.



Despite having common experiences, many of us don’t feel comfortable expressing our emotions and anxieties.  As I mentioned in my article about mental health discrimination, we grow up learning that anxiety and loneliness are weaknesses – most of us have spent years developing the perfect happy face; we refuse to reveal the intense feelings inside.  Our mental health is critical to our success in school and in our lives beyond, and it’s infuriating to see mental health discrimination pervading our culture.  The more we age, the higher our walls grow – we learn as children that successful people show no weakness, so we try to hide ours.



I vote we change that pattern.



The Penn State University Health Services offers CAPS chats in all the housing commons – the weekly meetings are an amazing opportunity to check in with other students who are just as stressed out as you and me.  Some chats have themes, like self-care or time management, while others are an open forum for students to come and talk about what’s going on in their lives.  Here is the chats schedule, pulled from the Penn State Student Affairs Site:


CAPS Chat in the Commons

  • Pollock Commons Monday 2-4pm (Pollock Halls: Residence life office)
  • Warnock Commons Tuesday 2-4pm (North Halls: Cultural Lounge)
  • Redifer Commons Wednesday 2-4pm (South Halls: Residence life office)
  • Waring Commons Thursday 2-4pm (West Halls: Cultural Lounge)
  • Johnston Commons Friday 10am-12pm (East Halls: Residence life office)

CAPS Chat at the Law School (For Law Students and SIA Students)

  • Law School – office #310 Thursday 12:30-2:30pm

LGBTQA Student Resource Center

  • 101 Boucke Building Monday 2-4pm
  • 101 Boucke Building Wednesday 2-4pm


  • 220 Grange Building Tuesday 12:30-2:30pm (Only on 2/13, 3/13, and 4/3)


  • 21 HUB – Robeson Center Wednesday 2:30-4:00pm (bi-weekly, 1/24, 2/7, 3/7, 3/21, 4/4, and 4/18)



There is no pressure to come every week or to go to the same place every time – that’s the beauty of CAPS Chats!  I encourage each and every one of you to go to at least one chat sometime this semester; college is stressful, and CAPS is being proactive about giving us a place to let some of it go.  Make your mental health a priority – college is busy, difficult, and stressful, and it’s the best time of our lives – let’s make sure we’re able to enjoy it.



No matter who you are, stress and anxiety is part of your life – we all deal with it.  Let’s come together and chat about it; who knows, maybe we’ll finally start to feel better.

WE CAN Get Involved: Apply For Straight Talks!

First off, it was incredible to see all of you at the Women’s March on Saturday.  There were between 500 and 1,000 men, women, and children that gathered at the Allen Street Gates to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Women’s March on Washington.  I met all kinds of incredible people on Saturday, from a six/seven year old in a Wonder Woman costume, to an elderly woman with a pocket constitution attached to her tricorn hat.  It was clear from the march that it was so much more than women fighting for women’s rights – we were marching for all human rights.


Here’s a quick slideshow of pictures from the march  (‘Quiet’ by MILCK was first debuted at the Women’s March in D.C.)


Okay, now onto today’s content.  



If you know anything about me, you know that I am extremely vocal about my support of LGBTQA rights.  If you don’t know me at all, well, know you know.  I grew up with two moms, and I have always believed that, if and whenever I meet somebody I want to spend my life with, I should have the legal right to do that without discrimination, regardless of their gender.  



My convictions about LGBT rights have only grown since I came to Penn State, and I’ve ended up arranging both my classes and extracurricular activities in a way where I can do as much research (and blogging, of course) about LGBT rights as possible.  If you recall my post from last fall, I visited the LGBTQA Student Resource Center in 101 Boucke to meet the student staffers and to see what I could do to get involved.



As any Penn Stater could guess, I ended up on an email ListServ.



One of my more recent emails included an invitation for students to join the Straight Talks program – it’s a peer education program where students act as ambassadors of the Student Resource Center and work with other clubs and groups on campus to spread awareness for sexual and gender diversity.  It’s an incredible opportunity for Penn State students to get involved in promoting LGBT rights right here in Happy Valley. There will be two training sessions on February 11th and 25th for students accepted to the program. Here’s how you can apply:



  1. Email straight-talks@psu.edu to let them know you’re interested
  2. Fill out this application



**The deadline for the email and application is Thursday, February 1st.**



I’m sure you all got my point here, but I can’t stress it enough: APPLY TO THIS PROGRAM!!  Regardless of whether you end up speaking to campus organizations or not, doing the training for this program will make a difference in how you interact with the world.  Just speaking with students and staff at the LGBTQA Student Resource Center can help you widen your perspective and be more aware of discrimination on campus.  Apply for the Straight Talks program, and see what I mean.



I hope to see you all at training!

(For more information about Straight Talks, see the LGBTQA Student Center’s Info Page)

New Year, Same Fight: It’s Time To Unite

Before I get started, let’s recap.


Last semester, I started this blog as a way to talk about how discrimination pervades our life on campus, and to raise awareness to the issues we face as students at Penn State.  We discussed issues like racism, mental health and religious discrimination, sexism, and homophobia.  You listened, quite patiently, while I ranted about the injustices that infect Happy Valley, and hopefully found some of the campus resources helpful in answering your further questions.



This semester will be a little different.



While there are still many more forms of discrimination to talk about, I want to expand on what we’ve already touched on.  Throughout this spring semester, I want to talk about some specific things we can do on campus to make a difference – let’s go one step above being aware, and be active!



That being said, the first of many opportunities is this Saturday, January 20th.  In continuation of the 2017 Women’s March on D.C., there will be a sister march on Allen Street at 9:30 a.m.  This march is an incredible opportunity for us to stand up against sexism and join the conversation about women’s rights on campus and in America.  You may remember my article on sexism from last semester – this march is a way to get involved in changing some of the institutions that continue to place female students at the lower end of the totem pole.  Penn State is not the only place affected by gender bias, and Women’s March is tackling these issues head on.  Some of the categories included in the Women’s March Mission  are violence, civil rights, LGBTQA rights, reproductive rights, immigrant rights, and a myriad of others.  Whatever issues affect you, whether it’s here at Penn State or at home or at work or anywhere else, attending this march is one simple way for you to get involved and make sure that WE ARE equal.



One quick note before I wrap up: the Women’s March and it’s goals are for everyone, not just a narrow demographic of women.  Women’s rights affect everyone in our country and around the world, and it will take the combined efforts of all people to make a change in the way women are treated in Happy Valley and the United States.  With that said, bundle up and come out to Allen Street!  No matter who you are, where you come from, what your major is, we need you to come out and support the fight for equality.  



Adding your voice and your passion to the Allen Street Women’s March (Details here!) is a super simple way to get involved in the fight for women’s rights on campus.  No matter what it is you’re fighting for; black rights, native rights, LGBTQA rights, religious tolerance, or any other issue, your presence at the march will make a difference.  Leave me a comment and tell me what you’re fighting for – and even better, tell me in person while we march!  


(Last year’s Sister March was held on Allen Street to show support for the Women’s March on D.C.)