Breaking the silence about depression

WUR latches on to exhibition about mental health among youngsters.
Studente Nienke tijdens haar openingswoordje When ArtEZ-student Nienke finally mustered the courage to talk about her feelings of depression, it felt liberating, she says. Photos Resource

Over thirty full-size portraits accompanied by the personal stories of youths struggling with feelings of depression are on exhibit at the Markt in Wageningen this month. They are the main attraction of the “OPEN about depression” exhibition. WUR seizes the opportunity to focus on mental health among students.

The OPEN exhibition is an initiative of the Open Mind Foundation and aims to make the mental vulnerabilities of youngsters visible. Moreover, it aims to open the discussion about the issue. WUR, Wageningen municipality and other Wageningen organisations latch on with their own activities for youngsters and their social environment. Students at WUR can join a workshop called “fighting sadness” or an Oppen Mic Night called “Dear Self”.

Mental health is an important topic for students, says WUR’s student wellbeing manager, Door van der Sloot, who attended the opening. ‘One in five young people is affected by depression. Many keep silent while talking about mental health can help prevent or alleviate depression.’

Nienke bij haar eigen portret
Nienke next to her OPEN-portrait

Nienke, the ArtEZ student who officially opened the exhibition with alderman Guido van Vulpen (Health and Health Care) by revealing her portrait, had trouble talking about her issues at first. ‘There was too much shame. As a result, I became extremely isolated, which made everything seem even more hopeless. I shut down.’

But: don’t push, is her advice. ‘Don’t make an issue out of talking about it. Being able to talk about my feelings of depression as a side note during a game, for example, really helped me’, she says. ‘And, listen attentively. Not as a “saviour”, but as an equal.’

The exhibition will remain open on the Markt until the end of December. For those who have difficulty reading the personal stories there, the PDF-photo document may provide a pleasant alternative. A list of the activities at WUR that are related to OPEN about depression is available online.

Stadsdichter Ellen bij de opening van OPEN over depressiviteit

City poem
City poet (and WUR student) Ellen van der Kolk was present at the opening and read a poem about the topic. Resource recorded her contribution on video, available on our Instagram.
(..) ‘Oh, not another one of those days?
A day that jerks and jeers
pokes and prods
Along the edge of darkness (…)’

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