This is discussion about Active Minds: Empowering Students and Changing the Conversation about Mental Health on College Campuses.
Great idea. I am very impressed with your video and your entry. I understand the level of advocacy that come out of tragedy and your are doing amazing work. I would love to see those blue dots cover the entire map in 2010 and 2011. Have you considered high-school chapters as well? It looks like an amazing program.
Thank you for your support of what we do, Regina! Indeed, we do have a few HS chapters among our 280+. While we know that mental health issues don't just affect college students, we have decided to keep our focus on college right now while we perfect our model. Since the statistics are different in HS, parents and other administrators are highly involved when students are under 18, and HS environments are a little different than college, we are happy to support any HS student interested in starting a chapter but we aren't seeking to start new ones just yet. I would imagine that 3-5 years down the line, when we have proper support and capacity, we'll be starting an entirely new Active Minds HS program.
It sounds like you're making a real contribution to reducing stigma around mental health for young people ... a much needed thing. I'd be really interested to hear more about some of the specific activities or the ways your chapters change the conversation about mental health. Is it difficult to engage students in conversations about mental health? Do the conversations tend to be ongoing, through the entire school year, or are they focused on a few special events or days?
I hope this idea continues to grow ... I love what the other commenter said about eventually expanding to include high school students.
What great questions Terry, and thank you too for the support! It's been truly fascinating to see this 'conversation' change - and how different it looks on each and every campus. Many chapters will hold events every month of the year, so while the 'conversation' can be a short term event (a panel discussion about mental health issues in the African American community; a screening of the movie A Beautiful Mind; etc), the events happen so frequently that it becomes a year-long culture change. We also sponsor National Day without Stigma (Oct.) and National Stress out Day (Apr.) which are clearly day-long events, but they are often caged in weeklong Mental Health Awareness Week and Stress Relief Weeks or even Months. Even still, some chapters compile writings and other expressions of mental health stories and edit a journal that they distribute on campus, and others start with freshman orientation programming and continue through the end of the year and the stress and anxiety that students face during finals.
We've found that, once one person tells his story, so many people around him will as well. So we encourage that open dialogue, for students to sit on panel discussions, bringing in a professional mental health speaker, and more. While there is certainly still high amounts of stigma around mental health, we find that young adults have less stigma than their parents' generation - students now grew up with Prozac advertised on TV, they've grown up being able to express themselves on Facebook and more. So while they haven't been given the words to use, they are tapped into the emotions and feelings more than in generations past. So we're determined to harness that openness and the energy of the next generation to truly change the conversation.
Thanks for your thoughts!
Congratulations on being selected as a finalist!