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Students begin dialogue on mental health at SCAD

by Alex Puga, Paige Mathieson, Amira Sahba, Elise Mullen and Jordan Petteys. Edited by Jordan Petteys.

The topic of mental health has become increasingly more relevant on campus this year, yet many of us find ourselves either lacking the proper knowledge, view mental health as taboo or are too fearful to define what we’re feeling. Many of us feel “in the dark” about where to receive help and how to deal with our emotions and behaviors. Whether we receive a diagnosis, succumb to the demanding expectations of professionalism and success or feel trapped by our circumstances, students argue that the campus is in desperate need of vulnerability. District created an opportunity for students to express how they define mental health through photo essays, videos, surveys and artwork, our main goal being to start a conversation.

Mental Health and Counseling Services

Director of counseling and support services gives perspective on mental health at SCAD.

Students discuss how mental health affects their college experience

Video by Alex Puga and Paige Mathieson, interviews by Jordan Petteys

SCAD students and alumni talk about how they cope with mental health in an artistic environment.

Student Profiles

Sarah Mabry

Damian Gruber

Tayler Ayers

Margaret Hall

Kate Bender


Students elaborate on how their college experiences contribute to their mental health.

Social Media and Mental Health

Kara Neumann recounts her experience with social media and mental health

With our phones now being an accessory in our everyday lives, social media has started to contribute to our mental health.

District Survey shows how phones affect students’ mental health

In today’s digital world, we use smartphones and social media as a means to cope with our stress and anxiety, but some argue that phone usage actually worsens it.

Student Artwork

Anna Webster, “Static”

“Like several other students at SCAD, I’ve experienced depression and anxiety. These emotions are a blessing and a curse for me. They allow me to focus more on my art, almost like putting on a helmet on to block out the world around me, therefore letting my emotions and soul flow into the pieces I create, and yet they cause me to freeze, to have a static mindset, setting me back from my goals and my work. Either way, I do what I love, and even though it may feel like a beautiful chaos at times, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Dee Harder, “Monstrous Surprise”

“The personal meaning of this piece developed as I worked on it. My father died last year and since then I’ve struggled hard with depression. Grief is surprising in the way that it’s never quite done with you, and you’ll never know when to expect it. You could be having a perfectly normal day, but a passing thought, flash of memory, or sudden reminder of your troubles could bring everything crashing down. Navigating that tangle of emotions often feels like losing my way in a place that used to be familiar, but is now filled with terrifying things.”
Lily Ogle, “My Mind Can’t Take Any More”

“We have all felt like our head was going to explode. From stress, anger, depression, you name it. Instead of painting a photorealistic piece, I wanted to create something that people could relate to in one way or another. Even though it seems like you’re truly alone, that there is no other way, you’re never alone. Ever. Be strong. Believe in yourself.”
Aaron Raven, “A Monstrous Mind”

“I’ve been doing several monster-related illustrations lately and thought I could equate mental illness as some kind of nebulous monster that bursts from the mind, often being very overwhelming and sometimes feels as if we’re suspended or floating in some kind of numb headspace. I didn’t really have a particular mental health problem in mind, and decided to instead illustrate the struggle of having to go through it, albeit in a somewhat morbid
fantasy-esque style.”
Hannah Hoffmeister, “Self Care”

“When you’re hurting––be it emotionally or physically, it’s important to find even the smallest ways to care for yourself. When I made this I was thinking about my morning routine and the comfort of holding a warm cup of coffee and how even though that did little to heal me physically––just focusing on that tiny feeling of comfort was a way for me to take care of myself.”
Lindsey Peterson, MFA candidate Graphic Design “Thoughts”
Lindsey Peterson, “Thoughts”

“Thoughts inside my head, they fight to be heard. Battling for importance, some get left behind.

I created “Thoughts” during a time when I felt very overwhelmed by other people’s opinions. I felt pressure to adapt to opinions that I didn’t agree with or hold. I felt as though I had so many thoughts swirling around in my mind that I couldn’t find my own voice. Other people’s voices were speaking louder in my head than my own, leaving me feeling as though I didn’t have one. I felt as if I couldn’t disagree or go against what others thought or wanted. As I created this piece, I realized that my own voice was there all along, battling for importance against the rest––sometimes it would prevail, and other times it would get left behind. But in end my voice was there. And it was (and is) important. “
Lindsey Peterson, MFA candidate Graphic Design “Thoughts”
Lindsey Peterson, “Anxiety”

I can’t find the off switch,
It’s nowhere in sight.
Every thought flashes before me,
All in the dead of night.
I don’t want to think about it,
I don’t want to acknowledge the fear.
It feels like I’m trapped,
And no one knows I’m scared.
I didn’t think this was an issue,
For I know where my hope is found.
Yet once again my pride fooled me,
But I was humbled when I hit the ground.
Though I felt alone,
I now see I never was.
Though I doubted then,
I now see it wasn’t just because.
My trust had been misplaced,
In things that aren’t true.
I could only find rest,
When I entrusted all to You.
Shuyang Zhou, “Helplessness III”

“As a traditional painter, I strive to create realistic work that is profound and conceptual. In the whole of the creating process, I find the agency in realistic work that is existential.

My artworks feature unexpected connections and strange scale. I create works in which an actual event has yet to take place or has just ended. Moments are left hanging, suggestive of atmosphere and suspense, leaving one to ponder, is this a narrative thread? As the drama unfolds in my painting, the build-up of tension is frozen in place. My art becomes the memory of an event that will never take place or a long event past.

In my series, “Helplessness III,” I put myself in an infusion bag as a symbol of disease. It is an inevitable thing in one’s life and the greatest helplessness. In my opinion, although the content I created seems to be more tangled and painful, the audience will feel relieved and calm after viewing. With suffering and entanglement, many people’s reactions are often not exaggerated emotional expression distortions, but peaceful meditations.

Art is an active way for us to share ideas and has an unpredictable imagination. It also has the potential to change one’s thoughts and open up new ideas. At the same time, these ideas often come from our lives. I use realism and drama as a form of storytelling, giving rise to thought and empathy.”