Literatures and Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer interviews Madeline “Maddie” Hope, the Assistant Director of Health & Wellness Education, for Mental Health Awareness Month. Visit the Davis Family Library to engage with a thematic display on this topic. Credits go to Dr. Raquel Albarrán of the Department of Luso-Hispanic Studies and students Jayla Johnson, Class of 2021, and Myles Maxie, Class of 2022, for the display’s design. Special thanks to Barbara Walter, Kat Cyr, Laura Kearley and Joseph Watson.
Katrina Spencer (KS): Hi, who are you? How long have you been here? What do you do on campus?
Maddie Hope (MH): Hi! I’m Maddie Hope. I’ve worked at Middlebury since July of 2018. I am a Health Educator, which means I provide trainings, one-on-one discussions and programs about topics related to health and wellness for students. My areas of focus are mental health, alcohol use and cannabis use. Come visit me in the Health and Wellness Education Office on the second floor of the Service Building. We have a massage chair!
KS: What do you know about the display in the Davis Family Library?
MH: I know the display is focused on decreasing stigma related to discussing mental health challenges and providing different resources that can be accessed for support.
KS: Why is it important to reduce stigma surrounding mental health and illness?
MH: So often when people are struggling with mental health, they are also having a hard time connecting to themselves or others and stigma, or judgment, can make this problem worse. Stigma about mental health and mental illness is often the largest barrier to seeking support and feeling understood. These are two of the most important curative factors for mental health challenges. When we seek to understand the challenges others are facing rather than meeting them with judgment, we pave the way for healing.
KS: What resources are available on campus? To students? Staff? Faculty?
MH: For students, there is the Parton Center for Health and Wellness. Students can choose to speak to a counselor or a health care provider for mental health support. To make an appointment with a counselor, students can call 802-443-5141, or visit their office on the third floor of Centeno House. You can also read about counseling staff on campus at go/counseling/. If students are interested in meeting with a health care provider, they can call 802-443-3290, or visit their office on the first floor of Centeno House to make an appointment.
For staff and faculty, Human Resources provides a confidential service called Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) which can provide short-term counseling services on a variety of topics and serve as a referral source for more long term services. More information can be found at go/EFAP/ or by inquiring with Human Resources.
KS: Are there any mental health counselors of color? And if not, what can community members do when they are seeking cultural familiarity and competency in their mental health care services?
MH: The Counseling staff at Middlebury is predominantly white-identified, but the counseling center is commiting to actively recruiting counselors of a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.
This can certainly be a challenge. Community members have a few options here. It might be valuable to consider beginning an online counseling relationship. It may be helpful to search for a clinician in your home community or in Burlington, VT. Some counselors may be open to meeting completely online, or have a few sessions in person and then offer online appointments.
A few resources for finding a therapist who can provide cultural familiarity include:
- “Find a Therapist” tool through Psychology Today
- “Therapist Directory” at Therapy for Black Girls
- “Directory” at National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
For additional reading and listening about how mental health challenges can be different for people of color consider the following:
- University of Houston Coping with Race Related Stress
- Just Jasmine Blog Self Care for People of Color After Emotional and Psychological Trauma
- Podcast: Between Sessions
KS: Thank you for those resources above. How might the Health and Wellness Education Office and the Libraries collaborate in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health?
MH: Often the library can be a place students experience many overwhelming emotions (e.g. feeling fatigued from studying, experiencing frustration or hopelessness about assignments or workload). I can see some exciting potential to explore having consistent stress management events in the library for students, faculty and staff to enjoy. Providing opportunities to explore strategies to address overwhelming emotions together helps to show support for those who may have a hard time discussing mental health challenges with others.
KS: Brilliant. Thank you for your time. Students, keep a look out for the Health & Wellness Education’s Stressbusters Calendar out May 6th!