Theta Nu Xi and Women’s Center Host Talk on Mental Health and Gender

Ramapo’s Women’s Center partnered with the multicultural sorority Theta Nu Xi on Thursday to host an event raising awareness on mental health in women. The event, entitled “Taking Care of Our Sister: Women and Mental Health,” was hosted by Misha Choudhry and Anu Upadhyay, members of Theta Nu Xi, and by Candace Beboe of the Women’s Center.

Although the crowd was intimate, those who came gathered around in chairs at the front of the room and responded to questions from the hosts that were meant to provoke thought and conversation from the audience.

“The point of this is to think about how larger forces can influence our psychology in ways we don’t even think about, because things can sometimes be compacted and influence us in ways we don’t realize,” said Choudhry.

One of the first questions the audience was asked was why women are 40 percent more likely than men to experience depression and two times as likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Women think more, they’re more emotional. They can go seek help and not feel ashamed of it, whereas men tend to not go and ask for help, so that’s probably why. There are more cases reported in women, because men don’t go and talk about things,” said senior Lyndsay Massaro.

The audience also brought up that the PTSD cases reported in women can stem from sexual assault, although it is important to note that sexual assault can also happen to men.

“When people think of PTSD they think of men coming back from war, which is acceptable in society, but they don’t think of a woman experiencing a sexual assault, which isn’t as acceptable,” said junior Lindsay Perrotti.

One of the last questions the audience was asked was how race, class, sex and age impact mental health. The audience came to a general consensus that a person is more likely to have a mental illness if they are homeless or from a lower class, as often mental health and other conditions go untreated due to a lack of funds.

“I feel like religion can also play into it because my friend went to a Catholic high school and she needed therapy. When she told her parents, her parents told her to pray and her problems would go away; they didn’t think it was serious,” commented audience member Natalia Saavedra.

Bouncing off of that, the audience mentioned that age can also play into the idea, because, in the experiences of many audience members, people of older generations seem not to understand mental health or be in denial if their child says they need therapy.

The hosts closed out the session by bringing up the topic of microaggressions.

“Microaggressions are statements that don’t seem to cause mental harm on the surface, but once they build up they can,” Choudhry said. “To solve this, you can always respond to the person saying the microaggression by saying that ‘that’s not cool’ or even make the situation awkward by saying you don’t understand what the person means and ask them to explain, because that puts them in an awkward spot. Don’t give them a huge lecture – just make it not socially acceptable.”

“It was a really interesting talk, and it was, I think, really important to have,” said sophomore Alissa Cartzsan. “I feel like mental health at Ramapo is something not spoken of enough, so this was a really refreshing talk. A lot of important issues were brought up, and I learned some new things about mental health too, so it was very helpful.”