Students, panelists discuss mental health at Alpha Epsilon Pi event


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Panelists speak about mental health during an event in the Technological Institute on Tuesday hosted by Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Speakers said it is important for people to engage in meaningful conversations about mental health.

Aaron Boxerman, Reporter

Panelists urged students to seek genuine and honest conversations about mental health with their peers during a panel hosted by the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity Tuesday.

The event was held in honor of Scott Boorstein, a Northwestern student and member of AEPi who took his own life on Sept. 2.

Three speakers discussed mental health, substance abuse and peer support during the event held in Technological Institute. The panelists — David Shor, director of clinical services at Counseling and Psychological Services; Scott Langenecker, a psychiatry and psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author Mike Bushman — addressed a group of about 25 people.

AEPi members held the event in preparation for Dog Days, an annual fundraiser that begins May 1. During the philanthropy event, members of the fraternity will sell hot dogs on campus to raise money for a charitable cause. SESP junior Josh Inwald, Dog Days co-chair, said Boorstein’s death led the fraternity to work with a charity that focuses on mental health.

“With the passing of Scott, one of the most treasured brothers in the fraternity, who loved Dog Days, we knew we wanted to channel his legacy and do something in his honor,” Inwald said.

Following Boorstein’s death, his friends and family remembered him for his kind and selfless character, saying he frequently attended service and philanthropy events at NU.

This year, all hot dog profits will be donated to the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit organization focused on helping those affected by depression and suicide, Inwald said.

During the Tuesday panel, speakers said it is important for those going through tough times to have support from their peers.

Bushman, whose most recent book “Suicide Escape” is the blend of a novel and memoir, talked about his struggle with depression and the importance of speaking out.

“Talking about it makes you realize you’re not alone, and helps you develop deeper relationships with the people you know,” Bushman said.

The panelists also discussed strategies for helping friends struggling with mental health.

Bushman said students should be attentive and caring toward their friends, describing how he had been saved from attempting suicide by an act of kindness by a co-worker.

Weinberg senior Jacob Swiatek, who attended the event, said he was impressed by the personal nature of the discussion. Swiatek founded MENtal Health, a student organization that provides workshops on mental health for new members of fraternities.

“(The panel) wasn’t a clinical discussion,” Swiatek said. “It wasn’t how to diagnose things, or the chemistry and biology behind mental illness. It was about how this impacts college students and how could this impact people in this room and people close to us.”

Swiatek said he hopes to incorporate some of the content discussed in the panel into his group’s workshops.

AEPi President Aaron Kaplan said he thought the panel was a success. Kaplan said Boorstein inspires him to continue to work to create a supportive community within his fraternity and at Northwestern.

“What’s important to us this year is not only raising money,” Kaplan, a McCormick sophomore, said. “For us, it’s incredibly important because of bringing that joy and happiness … so that we embody what Scott brought to our fraternity … In the way that we can impact campus and make it a more warm and welcome place.”

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