The Hillsdale College Lighthouse Club is continuing their monthly teas. Every other Friday afternoon the club meets to have open and honest discussions about various mental and emotional struggles.
For their last meeting on Friday, Feb. 7, the group gathered at the Paul House to talk about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Lighthouse President Alexis Daniels said she thought their last gathering went well, as seven students, both male and female, attended.
“The number of attendees varies from tea to tea depending on the topics,” Daniels said. “In the first full week of the semester in January, we talked about Seasonal Affective Disorder.”
The next tea will be in March when students come back from spring break, but the club has not chosen a topic yet. In addition to the informal teas, Lighthouse, along with psychology honorary Psi Chi, hosts monthly “Behind the Stigma” talks where professionals and other students give lectures on a wide range of mental health topics. This is a more structured and formal event, so the teas offer students a more relaxed environment to learn.
“The Lighthouse teas are kind of a scaled down setting from the Behind the Stigma talks,” Daniels said. “It’s meant to be informational and we educate each other, and it’s also a space to share those experiences and we can see how different those experiences are and better understand each other.”
Lighthouse Vice President, Olivia Manocchio, said that while the teas provide students an opportunity to share their own experiences they aren’t meant to be a therapy session.
“During the teas, we typically discuss a mental health topic and partake of light food,” Manocchio said. “The goal is to foster conversation and understanding.”
At the last Lighthouse tea, although no health professional could attend, Daniels said the students in attendance still learned a lot from their discussion.
“Someone new came in who had been struggling with OCD all of his life,” Daniels said. “He talked about what it looked like to live with that. It was really informative and striking to hear another student’s experience face to face.”
Manocchio said the group hopes to involve more of the Hillsdale Health Center counselors in future gatherings. Hillsdale’s Director of Health Service, Brock Lutz, is already involved as the faculty advisor for the group. He said he thinks what they’re doing is a great idea.
“There is a revolving list of topics that they discuss, usually focused around some mental health diagnoses or disorder, and I think anytime we get information out there about these disorders and how to best cope with them it is very helpful for students,” Lutz said. “It is also a very nonthreatening environment to come and discuss these issues, mostly with peers.”
Lighthouse began hosting the teas in the beginning of the fall semester and has continued to host them throughout the school year. The date and topic of the next Lighthouse tea will be announced in the Student Activities Board newsletter and on posters throughout campus.