It’s no secret that mental illness is a growing problem among college students.
In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), found that more than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed with a mental health condition within the past year, and one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness.
With those statistics come stigmas of course, both stigmas others have about mental illness and stigmas an individual has about his/her own mental illness.
Because of this, it’s important that something is done to erase the stigma.
That’s where the club Active Minds comes in. Active Minds is a national nonprofit organization that works to create an environment on college campuses in which students are empowered to speak openly about mental health.
The organization has developed chapters of student-run mental health awareness groups nationally, and each chapter connects students with the mental health community. Gannon’s chapter of Active Minds was created in 2010, and like the other chapters across the country, its goal is to educate students on mental health issues and create a safe space.
“Our organization wants to start a healthy and supportive conversation about mental illness to show people how common mental illness is on a college campus,” said club Co-President Kasie Inserra.
Active Minds is very involved on campus and works hard to get the word out about mental illness and the stigma surrounding it.
Members said they often have tables set up in Waldron Campus Center to hand out information to students about mental health issues. They also use these tables to give students fun, stress-relieving activities, especially around the weeks students have a lot of tests.
Not only does the club set up these tables regularly, but it also brings in speakers to educate students even further. This way, students can hear from professionals about the issues they and their peers face with mental health.
“This November, we also want to bring a local speaker in named Tyler Titus,” Inserra said.
“He is a licensed counselor who specializes in trauma and served on the board of directors for the Crime Victims Center.”
Members say they plan on having Titus tell students about his own struggle with mental health and topics surrounding the club’s goal of starting a conversation about mental health and its stigma.
That’s not all the group has up its sleeve, though. Members say that they currently have a lot of plans in the works for the rest of the school year.
Overall, the things that Active Minds is doing on Gannon’s campus and on college campuses nationally is extremely important, especially given the number of college students who suffer from mental illness.
In fact, the national chapter of Active Minds performed a study to see if the club was effective in its purpose.
“[The study] showed that the presence of Active Minds on campus improves the climate toward mental health and increases the number of students seeking help for mental illness,” Inserra said.
So, keep an eye out for the details about Active Minds’ speaker event in November, and the next time you see them sitting at a table in Waldron, try participating in a stress-relief activity and learn some more about the mental health issues that affect college students.
By Maddy Bruce