Eastern Michigan University’s new ‘Enlighten U’ podcast addresses student mental health

Lolita Cummings, Jessica and Jaida Turner, and Melissa Thrasher seated around the table of the Enlighten U podcast set.
From left, Lolita Cummings, Jessica and Jaida Turner, and Melissa Thrasher on the set of the "Enlighten U" video podcast.

YPSILANTI– Eastern Michigan University is working to improve the mental health of college students with a new visual podcast, “Enlighten U.” The first episode aired Sept. 15 and can be found on EMU’s YouTube Channel and all major podcast platforms.

According to noted mental health professionals, students attending EMU, along with every other educational institution in America, are experiencing a mental health crisis.

“Enlighten U” is a video podcast designed specifically for college students. Every month, an EMU student sits down with two co-hosts and a noted mental health professional to share their journey and receive insight, strategies, and resources.

“Everyone here at EMU, beginning with President James Smith, is concerned about the mental health of our students,” said public relations professor and “Enlighten U” co-host, Lolita Cummings. “We know from research that now, more than ever, students are entering college while struggling with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. We cannot sit idly by and watch them suffer. ‘Enlighten U’ is one of the many services EMU offers its students.”

In its first episode, “Enlighten U” co-hosts Cummings and Melissa Thrasher, EMU’s executive director of media relations and social media, welcome Perry Francis, ED.d., along with sisters, Jessica and Jaida Turner to the podcast set. Dr. Francis is an EMU counseling professor and a nationally certified counselor, while Jessica and Jaida are sisters, singers and EMU students.

The Turner sisters opened the podcast with a song and music video they created for the project. They were asked to do so after creating a different song, “Black Diamond” that addressed mental health at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and received huge recognition. While on set, they also discussed their experiences with anxiety. Throughout the conversation, Dr. Francis offered coping mechanisms, shared university resources, and more with all viewers.  

“Throughout the first episode, Jessica and Jaida shared their stories, and Perry Francis offered expert advice and resources,” said Thrasher. “He let them know they’re not alone and help is available. Everyone left the set feeling lighter than they arrived. It’s a problem-solution model we will use for all of our episodes. ‘Enlighten U’ was created to help and may very well save lives.”

Future episodes of “Enlighten U” will address the LGBTQ+ community, relationships, adulting, imposter syndrome, financial strain, grading anxiety, adjustment to campus life, social media harms, social justice, and more.

For more information about “Enlighten U,” contact Lolita Cummings at lcummin2@emich.edu and Melissa Thrasher at mthrashe@emich.edu. Email messages can also be sent to Enlighten_U@emich.edu. “Enlighten U” is available on all major podcast streaming services and EMU’s YouTube channel. The next episode will air Oct. 15.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

September 20, 2023

Written by:
Nina Scarpelli

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher