Hearing from those with mental illnesses – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Hearing from those with mental illnesses

Students in Assistant Professor of Psychology Jamie Bodenlos’ “Introduction to Psychopathology” class attended the National Alliance on Mental Illness Conference in Syracuse on Wednesday, Oct. 10. The conference called “Faces of Recovery” allowed her students to hear firsthand from people afflicted with mental illnesses speak about their experiences.

Students heard stories of those afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and from a mother of two children who had been diagnosed schizophrenic and bipolar.

Bodenlos believes the experience allowed the class’ discussions and readings “to come to life.” The event was especially beneficial to her students who are majoring in psychology or for those intending to enter a health profession, she noted, as they were exposed to all types of disorders that they will work with in the future.

“They also were able to see that people with these disorders are just like them, breaking the stigma attached to those with psychological disorders,” she said.

After graduating, Kelly Gagnon ’13, a psychology and French double major with a cognition logic and language minor, intends to go to graduate school or work in developmental psychology research.

“I heard a lot of stories that were analogous with the symptoms from class,” she said. “It’s always interesting and informative to learn about the disorders from a textbook but you never really achieve a personal level and hear about how someone truly feels to have a disorder. I enjoyed hearing how they have managed to live regularly normal lives, or at least more normal than one would feel they could have from reading the textbook.”

Psychology major Emily Coppola ’15, plans to attend graduate school to focus on abnormal psychological disorders and bio-neuropsychological aspects of psychology. She was also inspired by the real-life stories of individuals at the conference. “I feel like educating people on how smart, productive and driven these people with psychological disorders can be, which will allow them to eradicate common stigmas or stereotypes,” she says

The National Alliance is a not-for profit, self-help organization that aids those who suffer from persistent psychiatric illnesses. The organization was created in 1979, and has branches throughout the country who accept donations to help families in need confront various mental illnesses.

The trip was funded by the Deans’ and Provost’s office, as well as through the Psychology Department.

In the photo above, Assistant Professor of Psychology Jamie Bodenlos teaches a class in Gulick Hall.