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The Light­house Club meets monthly to discuss dif­ferent mental health issues. Left to right: Emily Ju, Alexis Daniels, Olivia Manocchio. John Barstow is also on the board but he is not pic­tured. Alexis Daniels | Col­legian

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.