‘Movies for Mental Health’ focuses on creating a supportive environment for sexual violence survivors

Beth Killan, left, is featured with some of the panelists including Jocelyn Phung, center, and Neha Kataria, right. Phung and Kataria spoke about their experiences with sexual violence. Photos provided by author.

The University of Connecticut hosted a virtual workshop yesterday titled “Movies for Mental Health.” The focus of this workshop was to create a safe environment for sexual violence survivors. It was sponsored by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, along with Art With Impact and UConn Student Government.  

Facilitated by Beth Killan, the event allowed for participants to comment their thoughts and feelings in a video chat that could be viewed by all. 

One of the roles Killan played during the event was asking participants a series of questions that could be answered by clicking a button on the side of the screen. An example of this happened when Killan asked the participants to meditate and practice breathing exercises. After it was over, participants were asked to pick how they felt about it by clicking on a series of options.  

Another part of the workshop involved Killan showing three short films that related to sexual violence. The first film was called “Touch Me, Don’t Touch Me,” directed by Lucie Rachel. It is about a relationship between two men in which one of the men narrates his experience being in an abusive relationship.  

The second film that was shown was called “Me too,” directed by Maya Bastian. It focuses on a woman who was raped at a party and her time since the incident. The film premiered at Voices With Impact in 2019, a film gathering highlighting films involving mental health and sexual violence. 

The final film that was shown was titled “I Am Here,” directed by Sorel Milne. It is an animated short film about a woman recalling her past traumatic experiences and sharing them with those close to her. 

After the movies were shown, a panel was held discussing sexual violence and featured the Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Connecticut, Lisa Winjum, the Director of Mental Health Services at UConn, Kristina Stewart and two UConn students. 

One of those students, Jocelyn Phung spoke about her experience with sexual violence.  

“It took me almost two years to fully come to terms with,” Phung said. 

Political science major Neta Kataria, another student on the panel, also spoke about her experience with attempted assault. 

“I have not seen justice because according to the law, that is not considered fourth-degree sexual assault,” said Kataria.  

As the event came to a close, students were able to share their thoughts about what they experienced. 

“I hope to learn how to better support survivors and honor their experiences, I hope to learn about more resources around campus in regards to sexual assault and mental health,” Becky Feldman, an eighth-semester civil engineering major said about her time at “Movies For Mental Health.”  

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual violence, call 9-11 immediately. If you are on campus, reach out to Student Health and Wellness.

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