About 30 students gathered in McKinnon Hall Tuesday night to learn about mental health disorders and how they can impact the lives of their friends and their families.

The Elon University student group Active Minds held a discussion to help spread awareness of the growing concerns that surround mental health disorders. This allowed the night to be centered around the growing issues of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

John Tessitore, a diagnosed OCD patient and Tuesday's speaker, presented a documentary about John Kelly , a close friend of Tessitore who died because of the overbearing pressures that OCD brought upon him.

This documentary presented Kelly as a enthusiastic individual whose internal fears about upsetting others led him to live in a state of depression as he continued to grow older. Feeling lost and unsure of his placement in life led him to believe that his OCD had, “stripped” him of his passion for activities that he used to love, Tessitore said.

John Tessitore spoke to students Tuesday night about OCD and other mental health disorders. Photo by Emily Smith, contributor.

The similar struggle that Tessitore faces led him to advocate for the importance of bringing more awareness to OCD. A main point Tessitore made was centered around the theme of isolation and how all OCD patients feel trapped inside their own minds. Tessitore emphasized that this internal feeling Kelly had led him to believe that no one was going to be able to help him overcome this disease.

There is currently no cure for OCD, so Tessitore discussed ways of helping people who face mental health disorders seek help and find treatment. Tessitore said talking about his OCD to family members and doctors helped him cope and understand the limitations his disease brought upon him.

According to Tessitore, he is fighting to make a difference for all people who face mental health disorders in order to hopefully find a cure. Tessitore said he hopes one day OCD will be cured and by fighting to make a difference, he will help make the lives of mental health patients more bearable.

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