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Stand-up comedian Kevin Breel to lead conversation on mental illness

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Kevin Breel will speak on campus on March 2. Credit: Courtesy of OUAB

Comedian Kevin Breel deals with his depression through comedy.

He will be making a stop on campus for The Ohio Union Activities Board and the National Alliance on Mental Illness collaborative event, “Getting Real with Kevin Breel” on Thursday.

Breel, a stand-up comedian, suicide survivor and mental health activist first became known for his Ted Talk lecture, “Confessions of a depressed comic.” In 2015 he released his book, “Boy Meets Depression: Or Life Sucks and Then You Live.

The event is taking place on RUOK? Day, which is organized by Buckeye Campaign Against Suicide and taking place in the Ohio Union Performance Hall before Breel’s speech.

NAMI is an awareness and education club for mental health and mental illness. Vanessa Siebert, co-president of NAMI and  a second-year in psychology, said having someone speak that has the experience that Breel does with attempted suicide makes mental illness more relatable to college students.

Bridget Salice, co-president of NAMI and a second-year in English and women’s gender and sexuality studies, said Breel will likely connect with a younger crowd about the importance of being aware of mental illness because he is 23 years old.

Brandon Norman, chair of collaborative events for OUAB and fourth-year in finance, echoed her sentiment.

“I think what’s most appealing about Kevin is that he is our age, so I really believe students will be able to relate to what he has to say and what he’s gone through,” Norman said.

Norman added that the organization is always looking to host events on thought-provoking issues and this is a good opportunity to create a dialogue around mental illness.

“Mental health is so important as it affects every single student on this campus in some form or another,” he said.

Salice said there is too much stigma surrounding mental illness, and NAMI is trying to make people realize that it is just like any other physical illness.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health,” Salice said.

Siebert said there is also an issue with the visibility of mental illness because many people choose to not talk about it, and bringing Breel in will help to stimulate that conversation.

“It’s not comfortable for people to talk about it, so they just don’t talk about it,” she said.

Salice said RUOK? Day is expected to host about 2,000 people, and they are hoping to fill the auditorium’s 600 seats for “Getting Real with Kevin Breel.”

The event will take place in the Archie Griffin West Ballroom in the Ohio Union at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the Ohio Union information desk and are limited to one per student with a BuckID required for entry.

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