Human library weaves together mental health and cultural identity

By: Anthony Petro, Staff Writer

Photo by Anthony Petro/ The Towerlight

Towson University’s Counseling Center hosted a human library and performances from groups and individuals on campus to create a space to discuss mental health and diversity on April 17.

“We wanted to host this event to give people a place to have serious conversations about mental health but have fun at the same time,” said Counseling Center Doctoral Intern Michael Marquez who helped put the event together.

The event was called “Why Not Both?” to weave together mental health and cultural identity.

The human library was set up as a “get to know you,” group discussion. Attendees sat around a circle and were each given a white board, a dry erase marker, and an eraser. There were two bowls filled with questions such as “What are some stereotypes you think people associate with your identity?” and “How connected do you feel with others who share this identity?”

Everyone in the circle wrote an identity they associate with, including their race, religion, sex, language, culture, nationality or another characteristic. Each attendee then shared how their identity related to the question.

“I really liked this whole event,” said Kelsey Ferrick, a junior psychology major. “The Counseling Center gives a safe space for uncomfortable topics and provides an environment of comfort.”

Emily Brown, also a doctoral intern at the Counseling Center and one of the event’s hosts, said she felt the event went really well.

“We always hope to reach out and it seemed everyone who participated in the discussion took a lot from it,” Brown said.

Before the human library, attendees were treated to performances by Towson’s Latin Dance team; songs by the University’s all-female acapella group Tiger Tones; and a few poems about depression, abusive relationships and hereditary illness by the Voices Slam Poetry Team.

Marquez transitioned from the performances to the human library by announcing to everyone that the counseling sessions are free for all Towson University students.


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