Annual Building Bridges Conference Explores Mental Health Stigmas

Held on Saturday, March 3 beginning at 9 a.m., the conference will explore and seek to dismantle stigmas attached to mental illness and mental health.
Posted on February 26th, 2018 by

Gustavus Adolphus College’s 23rd annual student-led Building Bridges conference will take place on Saturday, March 3, beginning at 9 a.m. in Christ Chapel. The topic of this year’s conference is “Mental Health: Exploring the Unacknowledged Civil Rights Journey,” which will explore and seek to dismantle stigmas attached to mental illness and mental health. Tickets (free for Gustavus students and staff/$10 for the general public) are available at

Health advocates Leah Ida Harris and Deborah Prothrow-Stith are the keynote speakers of this year’s conference.

In addition to Harris and Prothrow-Stith’s lectures, the conference will include a highlighted workshop, a thematic choral performance, and an interactive walkthrough meant to encourage the audience to help reframe discussions surrounding mental health.

Harris is a mental health and trauma activist, suicide prevention advocate, trainer, speaker, writer, and social entrepreneur who works to stop the perpetuation of harmful and traumatic practices in mental health. Her approach emphasizes the importance of people retaining dignity and the right to self determination. Harris’ lecture will take place at 9 a.m. in Christ Chapel.

Prothrow-Stith focuses on disparities in access to care for racial minorities. She is an internationally recognized public health leader who since 2008 has advised top tier healthcare, life sciences, academics for nonprofit institutions in addition to establishing the first Office of Violence Prevention in a state department of public health. Prothrow-Stith will speak at 2 p.m. in Alumni Hall.

The workshops and interactive walkthrough allow attendees to fully explore the dynamic role of mental health and bringing about social change. This conference focuses on laying down the foundation for critical dialogue about pressing global issues, and dispelling any beliefs that one’s actions cannot be a catalyst for creating positive social change.

Both keynote lectures and the highlighted workshop will be streamed live online. For more information, visit the Building Bridges website.

Building Bridges is a student organization at Gustavus that focuses on educating and informing community members on issues relating to social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Past topics of the annual student-run conference have included: The Grassroots Movement (2017), The War on Drugs (2016), Rape Culture (2015), Environmental Justice (2014), and Mass Incarceration (2013).


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


Comments are closed.