Senior sheds light on mental illnesses


Jacob Buttry created the show to start a conversation on mental illness. Photo courtesy of Jacob Buttry.

By Lindsay Tomaini

For one TCU senior, fighting the stigma that surrounds mental illness meant hours of interviews that led to a discussion about mental health.

Mental Health Monologues, a series written by senior Jacob Buttry, was staged Sept. 12 as part of National Suicide Prevention Week.

Buttry, a theatre and psychology major, said he wrote the show “to foster empathy.”

“I developed the idea to create a monologue show that dramatically showcases the real stories of community members in order to provide an educational way decreasing stigma and increasing compassion on the topics of mental health and mental illness.”

Jacob Buttry

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college-aged students, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so Buttry’s goal for this show was to shine a light on the effects of mental illnesses and how relevant suicide is in college.

“With the week focusing on suicide awareness, the main thing I took from the show and the message was to check up on people,” said Marielle Wyatt, a first-year theatre major.

The show featured nine TCU theatre students who auditioned for the roles before the start of the fall semester.

Each student would enter center stage in order to act out a specific person and their illness. The show provided the audience with an inside look into what daily life is like for someone who suffers with a disorder.

Wyatt said she auditioned for the show because the topic was something she’s passionate about.

“I would like to be an advocate for awareness,” Wyatt said. “I felt like the show was a really good way to do that, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Buttry said he wanted the audience to leave the theatre knowing the facts about mental health issues and to inspire them to be more empathetic to those suffering.

“One of my hopes was that by watching the show you would see how there is no need to be ashamed of these disorders — there is treatment out there and there are people out there wanting to help,” Buttry said. “My hope is that it can spread a feeling of hope among people who might be experiencing suicidal ideation.”

The monologues told the stories of nine people dealing with mental illnesses, including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis, and addiction. Photo courtesy of Jacob Buttry

Although the effects of mental health can be daunting, Buttry wanted the last line in the show to exude hope: “You just have to keep pushing forward. There are better days ahead. Rest now.”