Elephant in the Room: Mental Health Conversations at Bowdoin

“Elephant in the Room”

The intention of this project is to provide students (and others) the opportunity to hear voices across the college on a more personal level, specifically exploring the intersection of mental/emotional health, social stigma, personal identity, and culture. We hope that these conversations can inform and broaden more conversations like them, and we encourage you to reach out to the individuals in these videos if you would like to connect, get support, and talk about these issues more. 

Special thanks to Janie Porche for making this project possible.

October 12, 2022

Listen in as Dr. Mendiola talks with Kate Stern, SWAG director and associate dean of students for inclusion and diversity. Kate has had several role models and mentors in her mental health journey, and is proud of Bowdoin's momentum toward a proactive approach to wellness.

October 6, 2022

This week, Roland is talking about mental health, the midwest, and masculinity with Nate Hintze, Bowdoin's director of student activities.

September 23, 2022

Luis Miguel Guerrero '20, Assistant Director of Inclusion and Diversity in Student Affairs, talks about his family, faith, and identity. Like most of us, Luis's journey toward spiritual and emotional discovery is a winding one that takes a lifetime.

March 8, 2021

Chelsea Doyle, the digital community manager for the College, discusses how her family history of mental health issues shaped her early perceptions of emotional pain as weakness and how her own journey through treatment and healing enabled her to become the mental health advocate she is today.  

March 1, 2021

“I felt like I had to be perfect, and it was totally self-inflicted. And now I see in our students, that pressure is five million times greater.”

Martina Duncan ’97, college registrar, talks with Roland Mendiola from Counseling Services about growing up in Maine in a military family, attending Bowdoin, and learning to cope with anxiety and perfectionism with authenticity, humor, failure, and support from others. 

December 21, 2020

“I'm not saying that I want to be, like, the champion of hard conversations—but the more you allow yourself to have honest conversations, knowing that you want to think about the impact as well as the intention, you're always gonna come out of it so much more aware of who you are.”

Coach LJ Que, head coach of Bowdoin track and field, talks about her Filipino-American heritage, and the cultural and familial influences that inform her understanding of mental health—including the pressure to "always be grateful" and "not complain".

December 21, 2020

“When I had my first real strong episode with anxiety, I ended up kind of accidentally calling my dad. It's the best mistake I've ever made in my life.”

Sarah Seames, director of Bowdoin's McKeen Center for the Common Good, talks about how grief and anxiety moved her to a better understanding of mental health, and led her to join with other Bowdoin community members in a "grief group".

December 3, 2020

“It took some really dark periods in order to illuminate for me that depression was something I had been struggling with for 30-plus years.”

Michael Woodruff ’87, Director of the Bowdoin Outing Club, discusses how his arrival to Bowdoin as a student made him reconsider his beliefs, and how gender and upbringing defined his response to difference, anger, and treatment.

November 6, 2020

“There's often a confidence and bravado in the athletic community, and that doesn't naturally lend itself to vulnerability.”

Tim Ryan ’98, the Ashmead White Director of Athletics at Bowdoin, talks about how some of the things we associate with athletics—including confidence, resilience, and practice—can intersect with mental health.

October 29, 2020

“I feel like a lot of us feel the pressure to hold ourselves to the standard of what our performance was pre-pandemic — as though everything is fine. And everything is not fine!”

Lisa Peterson ‘07, Director of Gender Violence Prevention and Education, discusses her evolving experience and understanding of feminism and what it means to be a strong woman; issues of class and religion when it comes to emotional health; and how to practice humility and grace (for self and others) amidst varied public health crises.

October 23, 2020

“As a Black woman, there is this dual experience of being both hyper-visible and invisible at the same time.”

Kyra Green, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Interim Director of the Student Center for Multicultural Life, talks about the role of family in her life; ways she has learned to prioritize herself and her well-being, and how Black Women can offer grace to themselves and each other, acknowledging how "it's okay to not be okay."

October 19, 2020

“Growing up there was no conversation about the intersection of mental health and systems of oppression, poverty, or policy. It was just seen as personal failure.”

Eduardo Pazos, director of the Rachel Lord Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, speaks on his process of learning and understanding mental health issues through the lenses of religious upbringing, gender identity and expression, the immigrant experience, and Latinx values. 

October 9, 2020

“You have to cultivate compassion for yourself, and forgiveness for the fact that you can't be in control of everything.”

CXD's executive director, Kristin Brennan, talks about how we treat others in times of crisis, and why we can't seem to treat ourselves the same way. She discusses issues of emotional expression, resilience, and social support, as well as the value of being a perpetual student of life and being real with ourselves and others. 

October 6, 2020

“I've had to let go of the idea that I can be self-sufficient in all ways.”

Benje Douglas, senior vice president for inclusion and diversity, talks about the value of deep listening, asking for help, and acknowledging insecurities in the context of race, gender, and religious faith. Note that this interview is audio-only.

September 29, 2020

“My upbringing and life experience up to a certain point had just said ignore it, move past it, push it aside.”

Tim Hanson from Safety and Security talks about coming to meditation as an adult, the importance of recognizing the humanity in one another... and Katamari Damacy, naturally.

September 17, 2020

“To be able to say, I too feel helpless—that's so tough. It's hard work. It takes practice.”

Janie Porche from the Office of Communications about family pressure, washing boats, and whether all emotions are temporary.