Chargers Enter Mental Health Discussion With US Surgeon General

United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently moderated a panel discussion in New Haven on youth mental health and the importance of connection. Dozens of Chargers attended the event, including a student who served as a panelist and met the Surgeon General.

September 23, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Mary Lippa ’23 (far right) and US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and fellow panelists.

Mary Lippa ’23 is passionate about mental health education and suicide prevention at both the individual and systemic levels. His dedication to the University community and now US Surgeon General Dr. It caught Vivek Murthy’s attention.

US Surgeon General Dr.  Vivek Murthy and Mary Lippa '23.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and Mary Lippa ’23.

Committed to promoting mental health in college, Lippa is president of HappyUNewHaven, a well-known student organization, and often leaves bright sticky notes with uplifting messages and quotes around campus to inspire and cheer her Chargers friends. She was recently selected to represent the University as part of a mental health panel discussion involving students from local colleges and universities. She was an opportunity to get her message across to a wider audience.

The discussion, held at Southern Connecticut State University, was moderated by Dr. Murthy did. Panelists like Lippa directly spoke to Dr. They got a chance to address Murthy. He asked the youth’s mental health and what could be done to improve it, and Lippa was prepared. He discussed the importance of resilience, community, and connection.

“I wanted the Surgeon General and the audience to understand the young people’s perspective, as well as the more academic and social perspectives,” said Lippa, a psychology major. “Hearing my thoughts and responding to them is Dr. It was an honor for Murthy. It’s always been a dream come true for me to sit on a panel and be able to speak to a group of people on this topic that I’m extremely passionate about, especially in front of people who have serious push and pull.”

As part of the event, Lippa spoke to Dr. He also had the opportunity to interact with Murthy. He and other panelists—Gateway Community College, Southern, and Yale University—waited for him in a conference room. She said she made a positive impression on almost everyone.

“To quote one of my panelist friends, ‘Do you know when someone walks into a room and they just have a presence?’ That was exactly what it was like to meet him.” “He took care to ask people’s names throughout the event and was courteous, open and honest, maintaining an equal footing among all.”

The appearance of the panel.
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy moderated a panel discussion featuring Mary Lippa ’23 (left).
‘Talk openly about loneliness and mental health’

Lippa wasn’t the only Charger to attend the event. Fifty New Haven University undergraduate and graduate students from different departments participated in the discussion. Ryan White ’26 and two roommates, all of whom were in the paramedic department, were among them. White, Dr. She says Murthy’s message—especially about the importance of small efforts to connect with others like a smile—can make a big difference in someone else’s life.

Dhaani Dhaani '23 MPH.
Dhaani Dhaani ’23 MPH.

“Ever since I entered the healthcare industry, it has been incredible to see one of the nation’s leaders in person and hear him talk about mental health,” White said. “The coolest concept he introduced was that mental health and social connection are as important to living as food and water. He gave some basic science and being with others was able to really connect how we as humans can survive.”

Dr. Murthy and panelists discussed youth mental health, community and social connectivity, resonating with Dhaani Dhaani ’23 MPH. He is particularly interested in discussing loneliness and mental health, something many people experience during the pandemic, as he believes these are issues that don’t always get the attention they deserve. As a medical professional and a health advocate, she is pleased that these issues are now brought to light.

“During the talk, I felt that many students like me were excited to be there and really opened up,” he said. “Our participation, Dr. It showed that Murthy influenced and interested them, so they talked openly about loneliness and mental health. The talk also helped me connect with other emerging public health professionals from local universities and Dr. I feel lucky to have had the chance to listen to Murthy speak.”

Three roommates pose for a photo in their dorm.
Ryan White ’26 (front) and his roommates Pierce Perez (centre) and Dylan Custer were assigned to participate in the panel discussion.
‘We are together on this journey of self-care and mental well-being’

Many faculty members as well as students participated in the discussion. Kirsten Jensen, JD, NR-P, EMS-1, deputy director of the university’s paramedic program, says she is perhaps as excited as the students are to join. She was also grateful for the opportunity to show her support to the students and the members of the University community who were invited to participate in the event.

“I wanted to let students know that we are together on this journey of self-care and mental well-being,” she said. “This was a unique event. The panel was an opportunity for students and faculty to open their minds to each other. It is important to note that we can no longer turn a blind eye to such a pervasive issue as mental health.”

“This was a unique opportunity for our students to meet and learn from one of today’s key health leaders and one of the most trusted voices in public health,” said Karl Minges, PhD, MPH, Head of Health Administration. Policy Department. “There is a natural synergy in the way Surgeon General’s mission aligns with the many programs at the School of Health Sciences focused on laying the foundations for a healthier country and world. We are delighted to have community connections to make an unforgettable event like this a real possibility for students.”

‘Urgent need for change’

As part of the event, Dr. Murthy conducted a collaborative interactive exercise to encourage students to connect with those around them. He also answered questions and joined Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont for closing remarks.

Sanmit Jindal '24 MPH and Dr.  Murthy
Sanmit Jindal ’24 MPH and Dr. Murthy

The exercise for Sanmit Jindal ’24 MPH was very meaningful and enjoyed the interactive discussion. Dr. He says Murthy’s message and the panelists’ messages resonated with him.

“Dr. Murthy wants people to connect with each other because people are basically designed to connect,” he said. “Connections make you feel like you belong. Dialogue gives every person the power to heal. The panel discussion was very informative and Mary Lippa helped us understand the importance of helping people when they are vulnerable. It really helped.”

When Lippa finished his portion of the panel discussion, he concluded with a call to action. He discussed the importance of S.3628-Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Act, a bill backed by US Senator Jacky Rosen and received bipartisan support, she. It is currently awaiting passage through the Senate. Lippa encouraged participants to become familiar with the bill and be proactive when it comes to mental health, and encouraged everyone.

“Suicide prevention can happen between two people, but it can and should be systematically,” Lippa said. “This country has been facing an epidemic of mental health crisis and suicide for several years, long before the pandemic started. Mental health is always tied to physical health, and as a doctor, Dr. Murthy understands this and the urgent need for change. He has been a huge advocate for youth mental health, which is extremely helpful given his position in government and his influence on other key players in government.”

Students and faculty with Governor Ned Lamont.
Students and faculty with Governor Ned Lamont.

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