Prioritizing Self-Care & Finding Community: Neil's Story

Our student-led Maxwell Gray Film Fellowship program has released a short film featuring Neil, an accomplished and well-rounded undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. Having many aspects to his identity, Neil struggled to find a community that fit him best. He felt that entering the University of Michigan would be a great time and place to find a sense of unity. As a first generation, gay, Mexican man, Neil felt limited by the boxes that society often placed him in.

Instead of doing things that he genuinely cared about, Neil “said yes to everything.” He took on jobs, extracurricular activities, and even a student leadership position. Instead of providing a sense of purpose for Neil, these activities led him to feel a strong sense of burn out.

Eventually, Neil sought help by visiting the Counseling and Psychological Services at U-M. Here, he was able to talk to someone about his fears of not being good enough compiled with enormous amounts of stress. The counselors at CAPS helped Neil realize that he must prioritize the things that give him joy and help fulfill his goals.

This is when Neil found the Semester in Detroit urban studies program, where he discovered the opportunity to live, learn, and work in Detroit. Here, he found a strong sense of unity and purpose, and was able to focus more on work and relationships that were meaningful to him.

Support resources for U-M students:

Neil’s video, along with past video productions can be found on the Eisenberg Family Depression Center’s Maxwell Gray Film Fellowship website.

This project was funded by The Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, in memory of Maxwell Gray, and the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg Collaborative Innovations Fund at the U-M Eisenberg Family Depression Center