My name is George Hutchins, I am in my sophomore year at Indiana University, pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with a focus on pre-medical studies. I also serve as one of the Co-Directors for the Bring Change to Mind Undergrad Program (BC2M U), the collegiate level branch of Bring Change to Mind that was started at IU, and is targeted toward reducing mental health stigma specifically on college campuses. My experience with mental illness dates back to watching my mother struggle with clinical depression for several years, but my interest for getting involved and making a significant difference for those struggling as my mother did, was not fully ignited until I took Dr. Bernice Pescosolido’s Medical Sociology class. Learning about stigma, and how a person’s perceptions and attitudes toward someone with a mental illness is the biggest barrier towards them receiving proper treatment, deeply concerned me and lead me to seriously question how I could help make a change. I believe that my years of daily experience of what it is like to live with someone suffering from a mental illness and my passion for helping others obtain proper care have put me in a unique position to show compassion and make a lasting impact for those suffering from and indirectly effected by this issue.
Going forward, our vision for BC2M U is to fully engage the entire student population at IU, tapping into the talents of our brightest minds and using those talents to make this the generation that ends stigma for good. To do this, we plan on enhancing the membership experience to make the club more worthwhile for the students that dedicate their time and efforts to making stigma elimination a reality. The goal of improving mental health treatment is one shared by so many, it’s only a matter of providing these individuals the proper resources to be effective champions of change. Additionally, we plan to reach out and connect with other student organizations, to create a cohesive network with the common goal of making IU the first stigma free campus.
None of our efforts, nor the successes we have already had would be possible without the amazing support of Ms. Glenn Close, Ms. Pamela Harrington, Bring Change to Mind, or our university officials at IU like Dr. Pescosolido. Equally as important are the donations and the roles as advocates that many of you play. Your positions in society allow you to have a much farther reach, in some cases, than myself and my fellow students. With that being said, reducing and eliminating stigma will not be an easy task by any means. But I am confident that the resources and desire to make a difference that we all share can lead to us achieving our common goal and making America an environment where those suffering from mental illness can receive the proper care, without fear of stigma, and go on to lead fulfilling and limitless lives. It starts by making a change person by person. That is exactly what we have been doing with BC2M U, and that is exactly what we will continue to do. Thank you all so much.
In 2014, BC2M developed Bring Change to Mind Undergrad (BC2M U), a four-year student-led intervention and assessment research pilot program at Indiana University whose goal is to develop, test, and evaluate the efficacy of anti-stigma program materials. BC2M U is the first effort of its kind to develop a systematic program aimed at reducing the stigma of mental illness on a campus setting. Once the pilot phase is completed, it will be packaged and distributed for use by BC2M, free of charge, to colleges and universities. Dr. Bernice Pescosolido, the Director of Indiana University’s Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research, is overseeing the research component of the program.
Please consider making a donation today to support the Undergrad Program, and BC2M’s mission to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.