Students, faculty and community members came together Wednesday evening at College of the Canyons to have their questions answered by nationally recognized psychiatrist Dr. Alex Kopelowicz, about mental health, treatment options and psychiatrics.
The setting of the event was purposely informal, to help the audience feel more comfortable asking Kopelowicz questions, according to Larry Schallert, assistant director of the student health center at COC. It was structured in a Q&A format, so Kopelowicz did not come with any material of his own, just his experience and knowledge in the psychiatric field.
“We want students to get what they want to get out of this event,” said Schallert. “Psychology students can learn just by listening to him and community members also have the chance to ask him questions about their loved ones or themselves.”
As the event went on, the audience grew more and more comfortable with one another and Kopelowicz. The questions then transitioned from being vague to intimate. Once the trust in the room was initiated, audience members offered support and advice to many of those revealing personal details in their lives and family members.
Because of this supportive setting, audience members felt comfortable enough to ask the questions they wanted to ask.
“We only address the things that the individual wants to address, said Kopelowicz. “If they bring up the issues, I will ask them how they want me to address them and if they would prefer to not do it in public then we can talk afterward.”
COC was able to invite Kopelowicz because of the college’s connections through the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. NAMI is a grassroots mental health organization whose mission is to build better lives for Americans affected by mental illness, according to the organization’s website.
“When I get invitations to talk to groups about mental health issues, psychiatrics, and etcetera, I’m more than glad to do so because it is part of my job,” said Kopelowicz.