With discussions about mental health spreading across the Ivy League, the eight Ivy League universities have decided to come together to address the issue.
“Unmasking the Ivy League: A Conference on Mental Health” will be hosted at Penn from Feb. 12-14. The conference will give student leaders from the eight peer schools a chance to come together to discuss plans of action in light of recent mental health-related tragedies. The conference will be the very first of an annual series.
College senior Mabel Oviedo is the director and founder of the Mental Health Conference Board. After attending several conferences at other Ivy League schools, she saw the need to bring the eight schools together to share ideas and learn from each other.
“I walked away understanding what Penn does well and what Penn does not [do] so well,” she said.
The conference will bring together 10 student leaders from each school — a total of 80 delegates — for nine workshops. Student leaders will be selected from a pool of applicants within the next week.
The first day will feature a series of meet-and-greets and icebreakers, followed by a second day of workshops. The conference will begin with a session entitled “State of the Ivy League Student,” which will include brief presentations from each of the schools discussing the state of mental wellness on their various campuses. Representatives from Fox Leadership will then facilitate discussion between the proceeding workshops.
Oviedo explained that “Workshop 1: Cultural Identity” and “Workshop 2: Gender and Sexual Identity” were planned with the intention of demonstrating how mental health affects different communities within student bodies. Both sessions will be open to Penn students.
Dior Vargas, a Latina mental health activist and creator of the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project, will speak at the first workshop. Vargas recently received the White House Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations and has been a featured speaker across many other college campuses.
The next four workshop times will provide student leaders with the chance to learn about the medical perspective of mental wellness, self-advocacy and means of promoting one’s own mental health. The day will close with a keynote speech that will address what each student delegation hopes to do to incite change at their respective campuses.
“It is so exciting to see a common desire for change between Ivy Leaguers,” Oviedo said.
All events on Feb. 12, as well as the first and second workshop, will be open to interested Penn students. The conference will conclude on Feb. 14 with breakfast and closing remarks.
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