#SameHere Movement advocates for mental health conversations


Eric Kussin, the founder of #SameHere Movement talks about his experiences at an event organized by the NIU Counseling and Consultation Services Department on Tuesday in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center. 

By Courtney Ransom

DeKALB – NIU was one of 15 schools across the United States selected to host the Global Health Alliance: We’re all a Little “Crazy” #SameHere Sit-Down college tour.

Profession sports executive Eric Kussin founded the #SameHere movement in July 2017. The goal of the  platform is to express the importance of mental health, something Kussin does by sharing his personal challenges.

Kussin went through a two and a half year battle with severe depression and said he tried 50 different combinations of prescription drugs to alleviate his pain, none of which helped. He also said during this time he visited a yoga instructor that also happened to be a psychologist.

Kussin said talking with the yoga-psychologist had more of an impact on his life than any doctor he had seen in the previous two and a half years. He said she focused more on the experiences he had been through rather than the symptoms he was having.

“She explained to me that I had a front row seat to many traumatic experiences,” Kussin said. “If there’s anything I want you all to take away from this conversation here, is that the folks who have come out and told their stories, they’re not the one in five people [who suffer from mental health disorders],” Kussin said. “They are the brave people who started to tell their personal life story of challenges they’ve faced, which are no different than the challenges all of us face.”

Former Chicago Blackhawk Daniel Carcillo also attended the event and shared his mental health challenges with attendees. Carcillo, a left winger for the Blackhawks from 2011 to 2014, recently began opening up about his depression and talked about how he got through some of the most mentally taxing moments in his life.

Carcillo said meditation and spirituality were a useful outlet for him which helped him overcome his mental illness.

“Meditation saved my life,” Carcillo said. “It gave me five more years in my career in the NHL, but also helped me to learn my mind is crazy.” 

Senior political science major Christine Wang spoke about how she deals with depression and anxiety as well. She said it was difficult to be open about her mental health issues with her parents, so speaking in front of a crowd was a challenge too.

Wang said even after deciding to speak, she continuously went over in her head how much she wanted to share.

“Initially, when I was asked to be up here, I was hesitant because I didn’t know how much I wanted to share,” Wang said. “I battled with [the decision to speak or not] for two weeks now.”

Wang added to Kussin and Carcillo’s advice by giving specific opinions on how college students can cope with mental health issues.

All of the speakers gathered on stage to hold a Q&A following their individual presentations. Darren Rovell, ESPN Sports Business Reporter, conducted a group interview and the audience was later able to contribute questions as well.

Brooke Ruxton, Counseling and Consultation Services executive director, said there are many ways to self-treat mental illness. She said while some people may need to seek the attention of therapists, others may be just as able to handle the issues independently.

Ruxton said finding what works for the individual is most important. To offer some exercises that may help students, Kussin demonstrated various breathing techniques to help calm the body and reduce anxiety.

“Not everyone who’s struggling with mental health needs to see a therapist or talk to a psychiatrist,” Ruxton said. “It’s about finding ways to help yourself.”