For the second time at East Tennessee State University, Buctainment and Frontier Health teamed up for the annual Stigma Stops Now event. The event was held on Sept. 29 in the D.P. Culp University Center. This year they brought four-time Olympic medalist Shawn Johnson.
Before welcoming Johnson to the stage, speakers from the university identified the importance and realism of mental illness.
“I think it plays a huge role,” said Buctainment President Courtney Fitzstevens. “It brings awareness to it [mental illness]. It lets our students on campus know that other people go through it and you’re not the only one, and it gives them someone to talk to.”
Out of Johnson’s four medals, one came from her performance in the balance beam at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, where she earned gold at 16-years-old.
Johnson stood in front of the university body and told her life story and how the pressure to succeed brought her down.
In an experience during the Olympics, where she was projected to come out on top overall, she gave her all and still fell short. After this experience, she struggled with depression for several years before deciding to retire.
Although it took Johnson a little while to find other interests, she did. She published “Stories Behind the Smile” in 2009.
She reminded everyone to love what you do, for you.
“You never really know what someone else is going through,” said freshman Bryley Works. “So like Shawn, she was always putting on a happy face; she was always super excited to be a gymnast; that’s what she devoted her life to. Up until she retired, nobody knew what was going on around her besides her center circle, which is the same thing with me. No one knew what was going on.”
Works says she now always asks how people are doing, whether she asks first or they ask first, just to make sure they are okay.
If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, ETSU offers people dedicated to helping students on campus. More information can be found at http://www.etsu.edu/cas/psychology/bhwc/.