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Students Discuss Mental Health at the 2018 Mikiten Symposium

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Author: Sofia Rios | Category: Around Campus | Neuroscience | Neuroscience | June 13, 2018

This year's Mikiten featured poster sessions and three minute thesis (3MT) presentations. The event also hosted a keynote address led by Dr. Jair Soares, professor & chairman in Psychiatry, and Director of the Center of Excellence on Mood Disorders.

The panels this year included “Identifying Signs & Symptoms in Peers” presented by Nathan Johnston and “Sex & Cultural Difference in Mental Health” presented by Melodi Bowman. Other presenters in different panels were Dr. Trisha Kvisalu, Dr. Andrea Guiffrida, and Marcella Alvarez.

Dr. Teresa Evans, an associate professor of pharmacology presented her research on student burnout. She mentioned that “43-46 percent of graduate students in the bioscience discipline were considered depressed.”

Her research sought to find what affects a graduate students mental health and she found correlations with long work hours and ones mental health. 

She also found that a good percentage of people were not seeking therapy and that a huge percentage do not have a good work life balance.

At the end of her presentation a quote she shared on her slide stated, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

Dr. Jon Courand led a wellness workshop on mindfulness practices. Attendees were asked to pick up just one raisin on their way in and told not to eat it. Dr. Courand pointed out that when we first see people there are two things we always notice about them which is their clothes and their weight. 

He then explained that, “the moment we make a judgement we are a judge and it separates us from the people we are judging.” With this in mind, the attendees were then asked to explain the look, taste, smell, and feel of the raisin. The students enjoyed shouting out answers such as “sticky,” “earthy,” and “wrinkly.” 

The exercise was a way to help people reduce their adverse reaction to stressors. At the end of the event, the speaker handed out a mindfulness practice form where students were told to select a two-week period to write down three positive things that happened to them that day.

One student attending the workshop stated, “this exercise has made me realize how I need to take these steps in order to become more mindful and I am excited to implement the techniques Dr. Jon Courand taught us into my everyday routine.”

The second place winner of the 3 minute thesis competition was Sandra Becerra, a Translational Science Ph.D. student focusing their research on sepsis signature biomarkers for preventative treatments. 

The first place winner was Melodi Bowman, a student in the Neuroscience discipline of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program focusing their research on investigating organic cation transporter 3 (OCT3) and plasma membrane monoamine transporter (PMAT) as targets for development of new antidepressant treatments for juveniles and adolescents. 

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