A new FAD on campus: SGA grants the Friends of Anxiety Disorders a club charter

Posted by Sarah Barry

Despite its deceptive acronym, the Friends of Anxiety Disorders (FAD),  has secured a place on campus as an SGA chartered club. The club endeavors to raise awareness of a broad spectrum of disorders and problems related to mental health.

FAD became an officially chartered club through the Student Government Association on March 27. The club has only been officially in existence since the beginning of this semester, so it is still working to draw in members, but has received positive feedback from students thus far.

"When I've mentioned the club to people, many express interest in joining. Also SGA was very positive throughout the chartering process" said Priscilla Montalto '15, member and Secretary of FAD.

"Our club wants to educate and inform people here, and help students who may experience these conditions and situations feel that they have friends and understanding - a community" Wyatt Erchack '12 co-president and founder said. The club focuses on anxiety, but welcomes anyone with a mental disorder as well as students who have friends or acquaintances suffering from a disorder. In addition, students seeking more information or a discussion on these issues are also welcome.

During the fall semester, FAD began to organize the club in an effort to supplement other support groups existing on campus. "We started this club because we perceived a void on campus with regard to things people consider to be 'issues;' specifically, people with mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, have no community in which to connect with other students who may go through similar situations" said Willa Mayo '12, co-president of FAD.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in any given year one quarter of all adults are diagnosable for one or more mental disorders. FAD hopes to provide a community of supporters for students struggling with these issues, one that is free of judgment. They also hope to educate the campus about the prevalence of mental disorders.

"I first discovered FAD at a club fair at the start of the semester. It was such a relief to see that there was a community of students facing similar problems to my own. I used to worry I was alone on campus in terms of my disorders, but FAD quickly dispelled those worries" Montalto said.

For students who are concerned about confidentiality, FAD's charter includes a clause that designates all meetings as confidential. "While our club certainly may deal with personal issues, we are simply aiming for an understanding that, should someone share something personal, we will not share any information without that person's permission" Mayo said. Students are also not obligated to share any personal information during meetings.

FAD meetings consist of a 50-50 split between open discussion and a more structured brain-storming and agenda driven conversation. The group is working to change the campus' bias policy to include mental disorders, and FAD also hopes to produce a flyer series similar to the "Racy Reader" which will offer informative information on mental illness.

Be on the lookout for other upcoming opportunities to be involved as the club aims to host a student discussion on mental disorders. FAD is also working to implement an ally training program, which will instruct students in ways to aid friends and peers in times of need.

FAD meets every Tuesday in Bolton 101 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., or for students interested in joining the mailing list email pmontalt@skidmore.edu.

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