University President Says the Time to Speak About Mental Health Is Now

This week one campus is set to remember the life of a student who committed suicide in 2014, and President of University of Cincinnati, Santa Ono, opened up about his own struggle with suicide and depression. Over the weekend, Ono addressed an audience at the 1N5 fundraiser which stands for the one in five people who suffer from mental illness.

Ono’s main mission is to remove the stigma behind mental health and encourage those who may be suffering dark times to get the proper help and have the tools to do so.

Read more: How One Mother Made Meaning Out of Loss

University of President Santa Ono
University of Cincinnati President, Santa Ono

“Someone was there for me to help me work my way through that with medication and also seeing a professional to help me through very dark times in my life,” Ono said in an interview with the Enquirer. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel. If you have the proper counseling and support, it’s really possible for you to move past that and move back into functioning life.”

According to USA Today, Ono shared with the audience his continual struggle. When he was 14, he locked himself in his bedroom and tried to overdose on cold medication and beer. He attempted suicide again in his late 20s. Ono was also very active in response to the suicide of the University of Cincinnati student in 2014, being instrumental in arranging University Health Services to provide more mental health services for students.

Read more: Mourning the Loss of a Close Friend.

Ono stands in a much different position now as the President of a proud University to reverse the misconception that mental is a weakness that you have to hide from others. He overcame his struggle by seeking help, and he wants to encourage others to do the same.

He tweeted statements to his 70,000 plus Twitter followers in attempt to remove whatever stigma still exists and get those who are suffering to feel empowered by seeking the help they need.

Having mentioned that he would have been terrified to tell his story when he was younger, today he tells the Enquirer:  “Now I’m speaking from a much stronger station in life, and it’s important for me and others to speak about this to encourage legislators to support more programs.”

Read the full story here.