February 10, 2017

The Reality of the Beautiful Brain

Right now at the Weisman Art Museum there is a lot of buzz about brains. Following the opening of The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal last week, there is a lot of excitement about neuroscience, microscopes, and the relationship between art and science. However, as developed as our brain imaging technologies may be, we still have a lot of room for development in our conversations around mental health on campus.


Drawing by Santiago Ramõn y Cajal

This year in the WAM Collective, we have been focusing on wellness, a conscious, self-directed, evolving process of achieving holistic, mental, spiritual and environmental well-being. The Weisman’s feature exhibition The Beautiful Brain and the Target Studio’s exhibition The Talking Cure bring about the perfect opportunity to talk about mental health and the stigma surrounding it.

Experiencing mental illness as a college student is not rare.

  • 1 in 4 adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness
  • Over 25% of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year.

And yet the students actively seeking treatment to control and treat these conditions is.

  • 2/3 of students who are struggling with mental illness do not seek treatment.
  • 57% of them do not request accommodations from their school.

The concern of stigma is the number one reason that students report not seeking help.

At the University of Minnesota, we are fortunate to have an increasing number of resources available to students struggling with mental illness. Boynton Health Services on campus offers a variety of treatment options for students, and student groups like De-Stress, the Underserved Mental Health Association, and the Minnesota Student Association provide resources, advocacy, and events on campus to raise awareness around mental health and actively fight the stigma. Last year the University of Minnesota say new investments of nearly $300,000 to increase student access to mental health services at Boynton Health and Student Counseling Services.

But there is still much work to be done. When struggling with a mental illness, reaching out for help can be one of the most difficult things to do. Often you may feel as though no one understands or cares or you may feel as though you are burdening others with your problems. As the statistics above show, this is simply not true. There are many students having similar experiences, and an equal number of professionals and student volunteers who are here to help you and want to see you succeed.


WAM Collective Members Keith Murphy, Lexi Herman, and Anya Udovik assembling our hand-bound Wellness Toolkits

As part of our Wellness Initiative, the WAM Collective has put together a resource WAM Wellness Toolkit that shares some of our favorite ways to practice self-care and work towards achieving wellness. The toolkits contain a number of easy, free resources and activities, as well as a guide to different locations on campus where more comprehensive treatment can be sought. The WAM Wellness toolkit is free for all students and can be picked up at the front desk of the Weisman Art Museum.

Treatment for mental illness comes in many different forms and every individual has different strategies and coping mechanisms that help them to manage and understand their mental illness. We hope that our WAM Wellness toolkit can be a useful resource or conversation starter for you.

Be well,

The WAM Collective

The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal will be on display at the Weisman Art Museum through May 21st, 2017. For information on the exhibition or more related programming visit www.weisman.umn.edu

The Talking Cure will be on display in the Target Studio for Creative Collaboration will be on display in the galleries through April 30th, 2017. For information on the exhibition or more related programming visit www.weisman.umn.edu

Lauren Gengler is a second year from Wisconsin working on majors in Art and Journalism. She currently works at the WAM as a gallery guard. She spends most of her free time dancing around the kitchen, cooking noodles, eating entire avocados, and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack on repeat.


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