In light of recent mass shootings, the topic of mental health has stormed community conversations across the country. And for one Hmong group in Menomonie, the classic debate became a collective discussion this weekend.
Saturday marked the 32nd Annual Educational Conference held by UW-Stout's Hmong Stout Student Organization.
Each year the group chooses a topic. This year, they held a conference on the "Dimensions of Wellness: Focusing on Mental Health in the Hmong Community."
"I really want to focus on how mental health is in our community," said HSSO president Joshua Yang. "Sometimes it's a little hard to say because there is no direct translation when it comes to talking about depression, schizophrenia, anxiety or all these other disorders."
Yang said understanding mental health is a learning experience for their community. He hopes the conference helped students explain mental health to their elders.
There were also mental health keynote speakers at the event. One News 18 spoke with focused on historical trauma and collective community healing.
"Lots of times mental health is addressed on an individual level," said speaker Talee Vang, Hennepin County Medical Center. "So I may have depression, or I may have anxiety, or trauma. And we don't really talk about mental health on a collective level, on the community level. And we know that historical trauma can be passed down from one generation to another generation. And trauma has a big impact on our genetics as well as how we interact with our community, with our loved ones."
Vang said that addressing mental health in all communities is important. She wanted to open up what was an otherwise uncommon discussion in the Hmong community and said conversation could break barriers and build bridges.