More Than We Can Bear forum to tackle mental health

By Linda Nguyen

Staff Writer

Sometimes the stress of school and life can be more than students can bear.

The third annual More Than We Can Bear forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. today in D110 Baylor Sciences Building. It is free and open to the public.

The goal of the forum is to educate people about African-American mental health awareness and mental health awareness in general. It will feature a panel with licensed psychologist Dr. Rico Mosby and previous More Than We Can Bear lecture speaker Angelique Mayes. Dr. Monique Marsh, a Baylor clinical psychologist, will moderate the panel.

“I’ve been working in the field for 15 years,” Mosby aid. “A lot of my work has been addressing the needs of a variety of different student populations.”

Mosby said he is involved with student populations at universities. He focuses on helping students overcome the stigma against seeking help for mental illnesses when they need it.

“I feel it is important to seek out and to encourage people that it’s a safe and OK thing to do,” Mosby said.

The other panelist, Angelique Mayes, spoke at the inaugural More Than We Can Bear forum in 2010.

“She’s coming back because the students took to her,” said Lori Genous, the director of the Wellness Center.

Mayes was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was younger.

“She has a mental illness but also a master’s in social work, so she has both perspectives, which is unique,” Genous said.

Ramona Curtis, director of the Academy for Leader Development and Civic Engagement, said the idea the More Than We Can Bear came to her after a series of events. Curtis heard about one of her students who had taken her own life. Then Curtis read an article about depression in a Heart and Soul magazine, which looks at African American health.

The first person they mentioned was an African-American college student.

“I know the cultural issues that come with seeking help and the barriers that there are to help-seeking behaviors,” Curtis said. Curtis said a few months later another former Baylor student took his life and at that point, she felt something had to be done.

“At that point, I was like, we need to do something,” Curtis said. “I wanted to create something.” Curtis said the program for More Than We Can Bear will be different from previous years’ programs.

“This time, we’re going to have two speakers in a panel,” Curtis said. “Dr. Monique Marsh is going to facilitate the panel. After that, the counseling center will have remarks about what’s available here on campus and introduce the counseling team. From there, students will have the opportunity to engage with the speakers.”

Marsh said this issue is important to her.

“I am personally invested in this because I am the only African-American psychologist on staff,” Marsh said. “I’ve been getting a lot of African-American students coming to me for treatment. They are seeking services more than normal, and I want to continue to raise awareness so African-American students know that coming for help is not a stigma.”

Genous said once they decided to hold the forum, they have received much positive feedback.

“We got a diversity grant for $4,000,” Genous said. “SGA [Student Government Association] has given us money and the School of Social Work is partnering with us. Angelique is doing a brown bag luncheon that afternoon in the school of social work.”

The diversity grant was given this year from the Campus Diversity Committee in order to put on More Than We Can Bear. The brown bag luncheon is open to the community.

Genous also said they’ve presented More Than We Can Bear at a National Association of Student Personnel Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) multicultural institute conference in Atlanta.

NASPA is an organization that promotes the advancement, health and sustainability of student affairs professions.

“We want to keep it going and spread the word,” Genous said.

The Baylor Counseling Center is open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday The Center can also be reached at 254-710-2467.