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Yujin is a student at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine and visited the Kadima Center as part of the six-week psychiatric focus of the third-year clinical program. yujin

Written By: Yujin Oh

When I visited Kadima as part of my program at Oakland University, I had the opportunity to freely bond with clients and participate in activities together. Spending time outside of a clinical approach, having fun together is not something we’re usually exposed to when we work with patients in our clinical program.

I met a wide range of individuals, from a woman who told me she also studied at Oakland University (she received a degree in sociology) as she indulged in arts and crafts, to another woman who talked to herself about space science.  

During my visit, I experienced a recurrent theme throughout the day: music. I met a client listening to Elvis Presley on YouTube and found out he loves music as much as I do (and was surprised to hear another favorite artist of his is Eminem). I saw a group of people enjoying a session of karaoke. There were a couple of great singers, and everybody seemed to be supportive and enjoyed watching their peers.

I found a few people watching a concert DVD of the Bee Gees. I could see the pure joy in the face of a man who was completely immersed in the screen, singing every song word for word. I am someone who enjoys music more than anything, and believe in the power of it in terms of providing emotional support to people (regardless of age, race or background). This experience reinforced for me how music can be a medium to touch people with mental health challenges in a very special way to help aid recovery.

During a debrief with the Kadima coordinator, we were informed of a very important thing most don’t realize about people with mental health issues –  most of them clearly remember the lives they led before they were affected by their illnesses. It was truly regretful to hear how they are often defined by their conditions and stigmatized from society and even family. I learned how hurtful it is for them to be mistaken by others as being intellectually disabled simply because of the label of a psychiatric disorder. They are often very frustrated that people think they are “stupid,” which delivers a huge blow to their self-esteem and challenges their progress.

I hope organizations like Kadima get more and more exposed to the general population and continue to fight stigma and prejudice toward mental health issues and those who are affected by them. It would be great to have more facilities like Kadima because it’s hard for people with mental health challenges to have space to socialize without judgment and have a good time.

As a medical student, it’s important to understand a person as a whole, not just for their diagnosis, prognosis and medication needed. This is a setting where we got to focus on the person. It gave me a good opportunity to approach my future patients differently and see patients in a broad perspective that really serves their needs.