If I ask you how you’re feeling, you’ll say you’re OK…even if you aren’t. Why?
Why isn’t it OK to say we’re not OK?
We need to recognize that mental health is health, just like our physical condition. We don’t blame the cancer patient for being sick, or expect them to will themselves better, so why do we do that to the person who struggles with mental health?
Dr. Jonathon Wade, Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences at DACC, says we have to start making connections and normalizing mental health discussions. One solution he has implemented outside the classroom is his Connection Café.
In addition to being a stand-out professor, Dr. Wade makes a most excellent cup of coffee. He grinds his own beans and makes his own blend. He has numerous specialties available from lattes to coffee milkshakes.
What does this have to do with mental health?
“For both the best and the hardest conversations of my life, there’s been a coffee cup in my hand,” says Wade. “Coffee and connections go together.”
Even Sheldon Cooper knew that you should offer a hot beverage to a friend in distress.
Dr. Wade developed a traveling coffee cart that he uses at campus events and fundraisers, as well as out in the community to encourage conversation and make connections – thus, the Connection Café. As the recipient of the DACC Foundation’s Dorothy Duley Faculty Endowed Chair, Dr. Wade received funds to help support this initiative, but that didn’t go far enough.
In May 2022, Dr. Wade introduced free mental health panel presentations through DACC’s Community Education division. He has made a commitment to present a panel each month through May 2023, and then to resume the series from August 2023 through May 2024. The panels feature mental health and social service professionals who make themselves available for personal conversation over coffee from the Connection Café, and then move to the Bremer Auditorium stage for the formal seminar of the day.
Dr. Wade says, “If the knowledge I have to share about mental health, substance abuse recovery, or family dynamics never makes it past the classroom door, I have failed my community.” He feels a responsibility to move those conversations out of the classroom and into the family room, break room, and rec room at church.
“I’ve heard DACC called an artery for passing knowledge along to students,” he recalls. “I don’t see the College as a simple pass-through conduit, I see it as the heart of this body, a major organ pumping information and opportunities out into the community. If we aren’t supporting the community, we aren’t doing our jobs.”
Dr. Wade’s next panel presentation is Thursday, September 22, from 9:00 am to 11:30 am in the Bremer Conference Center. The discussion topic is Suicide Prevention and Awareness. The October presentation will be Domestic Violence and Awareness, held on Monday, October 24.
While the discussions are free, we ask that you register in advance by calling 217.554.1667.