Lighthouse board

A “Lighthouse” to People Affected By Mental Health Issues

Written by Katie Beemer

Lighthouse, a club dedicated to shedding light on mental health issues, has worked hard to increase its impact on campus over this past semester.

Last year, at a lecture on identity hosted by Women of Virtue, Hillsdale College Guidance Counselor Brock Lutz spoke about how college students so often place white picket fences around themselves, reluctant to share their struggles and shatter the perfect images they have built up for themselves. He explained that as a guidance counselor, one of his roles is to help to tear down these white picket fences.

Those of us who attended the lecture continued to discuss that analogy months later. The idea of tearing down the white picket fences in order to pursue truth and authentic friendship is something that many of us now strive to do.

Lighthouse’s mission is to help break down barriers like the white picket fences and more. Although this is their first semester as an official club, the work that they begun work last year has set the precedent for this semester.

Last year, their biggest event was the “Behind the Stigma” lecture series. Professors and students alike spoke about depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and eating disorders. Sarah Milback, the Vice-President of Lighthouse explained that their main purpose is to “eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health and to promote mental wellness around campus and help others recognize that people who struggle with these things aren’t weak.”

Lighthouse hopes to decrease the stigmas that surround mental health disorders through the increased awareness that most people on this campus and in this world are affected by mental health problems.

To show that students aren’t alone, Lighthouse is currently working on a project called “Pieces of Us”. Students anonymously filled out cards with something they wish others knew about them. For example: “I had 40 fish tanks growing up”, “I’m depressed”, or “My brother struggles with self-harm.” Lighthouse took these cards and placed them in a collage to be hung up, in order to show that students have more in common than they think.

“Lighthouse is here to provide an avenue of encouragement. We won’t personally see the girl who is crying in her room on the phone with her mom, or the young man who recognizes an addiction and decides to fight it. However, we can open up a conversation on campus that allows people to feel comfortable with confronting personal barriers that keep them from living fully. Since Lighthouse’s foundation as a club, I personally have seen more conversations about mental health around campus. People ask, ‘What is Lighthouse?’ and that, in itself, allows us to confront topics that aren’t typically discussed”, said member Carly Howell.

As Lighthouse continues to work on making campus a friendlier place, they encourage those who are struggling to seek help. Anyone who is facing problems shouldn’t be ashamed to speak out. We all do battle in some way, but by tearing down our white picket fences, we are able to share stories and take steps toward healing.

Katie Beemer is a #supersophomore from #puremichigan in pursuit of a degree in #politics and #classicaleducation. She is an #extremeextrovert, uses hashtags excessively/inappropriately, and is the proud owner of a pet reindeer named Edgar John Cervantes III #itsalongstory. In her free time, she volunteers with A Few Good Men and Crossroads Farm.