Translator: Reiko Bovee
Reviewer: Denise RQ Robin Williams, just last year, the beloved comedian and actor,
committed suicide. Likely, just hearing those words
come out my mouth makes you feel uncomfortable
because our culture is so hush-hush when it comes to the issues
surrounding mental illness. Which is ultimately really ironic, because according to
the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill one in four adults suffers
from a mental illness. That’s one in four people in this room, that’s one in four people
at your work place, one in four people in your class,
one in four people in your family, struggling with a mental illness. So with that statistics in mind, you can understand
my deep-rooted frustration to learn that the Illinois government
has cut the budget for mental health care by 71% in recent years. I am sociology major,
so it’s in my nature to prance around and blame the government
for all of our social ailments. (Laughter) But fortunately, for all of you,
that’s not what I am here to do tonight. I think we can solve this
if we think creatively, if we step outside of the box
and come up with an atypical solution, so bear with me while we do that. Please raise your hand,
if you a) have a job currently, or if you’re like me, b) hope to have
a job pending graduation soon. Let’s see the hands. Yeah, my calculations may be slightly off but I am assuming
that’s roughly 100% of us in here. So as you can see, the workforce
is a strong social structure that is frankly underrated,
and we don’t tap into frequently enough. I think that the companies, corporations,
institutions that we work for have a unique opportunity
to take a stance on the social problems, and in my opinion,
it’s our responsibility to do so. Several corporations, companies,
organizations already are offering physical wellness centers
on their corporate campuses. These consist of fitness centers,
weight rooms, or even walking-in clinics where you can get
your common cold treated. But I think it’s the representatives
in this room of the workforce; we have the unique opportunity
to push our employers to offer more. I am suggesting that we ask
for mental wellness centers. Our mental wellness centers
will house two to three counselors on site each job site. These counselors would offer
individual counseling sessions as well as company-wide programs
to promote mental and emotional wellness. The capitalist in you might be thinking:
“Self? That sounds expensive.” But let me assure you
that most competitive companies right now are allocating significant portions
of their budgets to sustainability efforts to become more eco-friendly. That’s all great and wonderful, but I assure you
that a mental wellness center is more than a compost bin
in a break room, or teaching respectable,
recycling methods. A mental wellness center shows
the employees, that’s us, that we are deeply, deeply cared for. Who doesn’t want to be deeply cared for? So use your voice,
understand your advocacy and join me in making
mental wellness centers a reality. Thank you. (Applause)