By Isabella Darcy
The College’s chapter of MannMukti turned Brower Student Center into a safe space to discuss mental health on Thursday, April 6, during its Spill the Chai event.
MannMukti organized the event around its mission, which is to remove stigma around South Asian mental health.
“We hosted this so that people can get things off of their chests,” said senior public health major and president of MannMukti Manasi Palle.
When attendees arrived at the event, they filled their plates with homemade cookies and Gobi Manchurian, and sipped on chai before “spilling the tea.”
MannMukti puts its own spin on the popular saying “spill the tea.” When someone “spills the tea,” or the chai in this case, they are sharing the truth of a situation with another person or people.
The event provided a space for people to speak truthfully about their mental health free of judgment.
“I feel like during this time, especially after spring break, it gets a little stressful especially since finals are coming up and we just want to give an open forum for people to talk about their feelings,” Palle said.
Members of MannMukti facilitated two group discussions, bringing up various mental health related topics. Many of the topics acknowledged how culture can play a role in one's mental wellbeing.
“These are the discussions that need to be had,” said freshman special education and psychology major Meera Bhatt.
As stories were shared, some attendees found that they could relate to each other. Discussions lasted for about an hour, until the groups broke to grab more food, pick up a free MannMukti t-shirt and participate in other relaxing activities.
One activity was do-it-yourself goodie bags, which could be filled with incense sticks, Hershey’s Kisses and note cards.
Next to the goodie bags was an anonymous sticky-note wall. The activity, which took inspiration from The Strangers Project, encouraged folks to write a story about their day and then hang it on the wall.
As the event approached its latter portion, some attendees continued to partake in the activities while others returned to a facilitated discussion.
“I think it’s important to talk about mental health because by talking about it, we are reducing the stigma,” said freshman biology major Deeya Doshi.
As the event came to an end, MannMukti reminded attendees that their mental health is important and that MannMukti is there to support them.
“We just want everyone to feel at home at TCNJ,” Palle said, “and just give them a platform to speak about their feelings.”