Hannah’s Story

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Hannah Metzger joined Active Minds as a freshman and served as chapter president at West Chester University (PA) for two years. Over the summer, we had the privilege of hosting Hannah as an intern at our national office.

After watching the interview below, you’ll be so impressed with Hannah’s strength, warmth, and poise, and the amazing impact Active Minds has every day.

 

As you consider your holiday charitable giving, choose to donate to Active Minds. Your gift makes a life-saving difference by preventing young adult suicides and raising awareness about mental health.

Donate

 


VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

When I was 13-years-old I lost my father to suicide. And when I was 17 I lost my 14-year-old brother. And since then I’ve really struggled with depression and anxiety as a result of that…

When I first began college, I was fine in the beginning of the first semester of my freshman year and then started to get really overwhelmed and decided I couldn’t do it and was never going to make it through. And I had a breakdown in mid-October I would say, and talked to my mom and told her for the first time I was actually thinking of ending my own life. And it was terrifying…

Then the spring of my freshman year, I found Active Minds on my campus and it finally felt like that one place I was looking for that I needed some support from…

Active Minds is really important on college campuses because the onset age for many different mental health disorders and illnesses is early college age, so 18, 19, 20, 21. And I don’t think anyone is getting the help they need because it’s such a weird transition period that they don’t know what’s available, they don’t know where to go, they struggle by themselves and think this is just a me problem, she’s not feeling this way obviously. A lot of people don’t get help.

Active Minds is a good place that acts as a comforting type of zone rather than the stress and anxiety that comes with going to a therapist. I think it’s a great place for students particularly to connect with other students and realize that they’re not the only one struggling and that it’s ok to ask for help…

I think we still have a long way to go on campuses. I think that bringing Active Minds to campuses is definitely putting the foot in the door and making the conversation begin, but I also think that so many people are still stigmatizing it and still putting it off as, oh I don’t have a problem so it doesn’t matter. And I think that by changing the atmosphere on college campuses to make it more accepting it will slowly make people realize that its ok, and help isn’t a sign of weakness, and reaching out is not you giving up and being vulnerable, it’s you being strong enough to admit, I’m having a tough time and I need help…

So, getting the help that I needed really changed my life honestly. And I want other people to see that it’s ok to reach out for help and see that there is hope, whether it’s the darkest of days, I feel that I’ve been there, but there is always going to be a brighter day. And I think Active Minds does a good job of helping people see that there is a brighter side to things.

What We Learned From Your Fall Inventory Feedback

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Thank you to the 250 chapters that completed their fall inventories! This semester you hosted 742 events and reached more than 101,000 students with mental health resources. Chapters reported their top strengths to be leadership, collaboration, and programming, and almost 30% of chapters are planning to expand their reach, or already have, by pursuing policy or institutional change.

As always, we have resources to help you out as you begin the new semester! Every chapter has a chapter fundraising page ready to be customized and shared so you can fundraise via email and social media. Every chapter can also access our Transform Your Campus Toolkit to get guidance, direction, and support for policy and institutional changes that you want to see on your campus.

As you head into January, refresh yourself with our Chapter Resources to make the spring your best semester yet!

My Experience (so far) on the Student Advisory Committee, and 4 Reasons Why YOU Should Apply

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Me and just some of the members of the SAC at #MHCC16

This is my first year as a member of the SAC and let me tell you, friend, I am so glad that I applied. Being on the SAC is unique in the sense that it’s not a paid job, it’s not an internship, and it’s probably not like any other volunteering you’ve ever done. It’s hard to describe what being on the SAC is like, but if you love Active Minds and are still going to be a student next academic year, read on for my top 4 reasons why you should think about applyig:

1. Having an even greater say in the things that affect your chapter

You know the National staff loves to hear from you anyways, right? Good. Not going to lie, I can’t imagine myself just emailing chapters@activeminds.org with some random initiative idea that I had while trying to fall asleep last night (not to say you can’t do that)! One of great things about being on the SAC is that the staff actively asks us for feedback and ideas based on what we see as needs of our campus populations. Honestly, it’s a cool position to be in, and it’s definitely made me reflect more on what my campus is doing well or not so well and what my chapter can do to help.

And if your brain is just overflowing with ideas about programs, fundraising, and new initiatives, you can stop reading at this point and just go ahead and apply now.

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November Chapter of the Month: Ithaca College

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A big congratulations to Ithaca College, our Chapter of the Month for November. All of us at the Active Minds National Office are beyond impressed by your efforts and are proud to be able to share your accomplishments with other members.

By partnering with other departments, organizations, and campus groups, Ithaca has cultivated strong relationships with a diverse range of students.  Of these include the Psychology and Sociology Departments, Student Government, Diversity/Multicultural office, Student Health office, Admissions/Orientation, LGBTQ groups, Culturally-based student groups, as well as other health and wellness groups.

This year, Ithaca has accomplished an array of endeavors. Most recently, their chapter shared the most stories on Giving Tuesday, using the hashtag #BecauseofActiveMinds to express how the organization has impacted their lives and communities. They took part in the suicide prevention month campaign, “The World Needs You Here,” selling bracelets to raise funds and awareness.

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One Second Every Day

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I knew from the moment I accepted the position that going on tour with Send Silence Packing was going to be a once in a lifetime experience. Of course the prospect of experiencing something so amazing made me excited but it simultaneously planted a seed of anxiety. How in the world could I capture this time and be able to remember the details?

I’ve always wanted to be a journaler. I admire those who can express their thoughts to themselves on paper and are disciplined enough to do it everyday. I would love to have a record of my thoughts and experiences from any particular time period in my life and be able to reference those notes whenever I’m feeling nostalgic. Alas, every time I’ve attempted a journal it ends up being a notebook full of lists. I list things, it’s what I do. Listing is super helpful to remember tasks I need to do but not great when I want to remember what I actually did that day or how I felt about it. Knowing this about myself and determined to capture the trip in a meaningful way, I knew I was going to have to get creative. Continue Reading

Tell Me More: Wentworth Miller’s Suggestions on How to Start the Conversation

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Watch this short video clip to hear from two hugely committed #StigmaFighters!

Dani Lukens, an Active Minds outreach specialist, spoke with Wentworth Miller, the popular actor and Active Minds’ Ambassador for Mental Health, about how talking about someone’s mental health is not an easy conversation to have, and yet how important it is to try.

Wentworth Miller also provides some great suggestions, based on his own experiences, for what to say to someone you’re concerned about, and how having this conversation is one of the best first steps for helping someone who’s struggling.

We admire the way Dani and Wentworth fully embrace Active Minds’ mission to “change the conversation about mental health”!

giving_tuesday_logostacked_transparentYou, too, can show the world this is a cause you care about by making a donation to Active Minds’ lifesaving mission. Plus, every $5 you donate from now through December 9 is an entry to win a fun #BreaktheStigma prize package for you or a friend.

Give. Save. Win. See all the details here!

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VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Dani: While on tour with Send Silence Packing, the most common feedback I get from students is “Thank you.” At every exhibit, I have students express their gratitude for bringing to light something that is still so difficult to talk about for many people. So when you first started talking about your own mental health, what were some of the reactions that you got from your family, your friends, your fans as well?

Wentworth: That’s an evolving conversation. I’ve said before that, we all have to come out many times and in many ways, and so for me it feels as though I’m coming out about my mental health history and situation almost on a daily basis.

And it’s different every time, depending on who you’re talking to. Some people are ready to have that conversation with me. Some people are ready to hold a space for the fact that I have experienced depression and I’ve had suicidal thoughts, that there have been long stretches in my life where I’ve struggled. Some people know how to be with that, and other people in my experience, don’t. They’re either triggered by that conversation because it brings up something in themselves, or there’s maybe a desire to immediately fix it and make it ok.

My preferred response is, “Tell me more.” My preferred response is, “How was that for you.” My preferred response is, “I’m sorry that that happened. What can I do to support you in this process?”

I think a lot of people, understandably, because the conversation is so new, don’t know how to speak into it, and so they choose not to. They choose to erect a wall of silence.

But my advice to someone who is wanting to speak into that conversation — because maybe they have a friend or loved one that they can see is going through something — is to start from a place of “I don’t know.” Use that as your springboard.

“I feel like you’re going through something. I see you going through something. But I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know what to say exactly. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing.”

And out of that admission, you’ve created a space that invites the other person to step into whatever their truth may be. The conversation has begun.

And I think that’s really the most important part of that whole process. Beginning the conversation. Whatever that looks like. And I think, “I don’t know how to begin the conversation” is a great start.

Giving Tuesday Contest on Nov 29: Earn Prizes!

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givingtuesday_chapters_bannerHey stigmafighters! We wanted to let you know about a brand-new initiative we’ve created to help chapters fundraise that will take just ONE day of your time and will help earn prizes for you and your chapter, including a FREE awareness campaign kit like the one you received in the mail earlier this semester.

This Tuesday, November 29, join Active Minds in sharing why campus mental health and the Active Minds movement are important to you. Share your story with the hashtag #BecauseofActiveMinds along with your chapter’s online fundraising page, and you and your chapter could win a prize. See below for the three simple steps.

How to Participate:

Step 1: Create a Personal Fundraising Page.
Find your chapter’s online fundraising page here. Select your chapter’s name. On your chapter’s fundraising page, select the button “Create a Personal Page.” Complete the online form and you’re done! (Don’t see your chapter’s fundraising page listed? Or found it but want to change the photo and/or text? Contact us at chapters@activeminds.org for help!)

Step 2: Customize Your Personal Page.
This handy guide and the Chapters Team (chapters@activeminds.org) are here to help!

Step 3: Promote your Personal Page on Social Media with the Hashtag #BecauseofActiveMinds.
On Giving Tuesday (November 29), post a photo (using our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram templates), a link to your fundraising page, and the hashtag #BecauseofActiveMinds.

Prizes Awarded to:

  • The CHAPTER raising the MOST online donations for Active Minds on Giving Tuesday.
  • The INDIVIDUAL raising the MOST online donations for Active Minds on Giving Tuesday. 

For more information, contact the Chapters Team at  chapters@activeminds.org.

International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

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Kevin Briggs is a member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau. Bring him to your campus or organization to speak about mental health.

November 19th is “International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.”  This day is an opportunity celebrated around the world for people affected by suicide loss to gather at local events to find and provide comfort and gain understanding as they share their stories of their loved ones.  I once read that each suicide has what is referred to as a “direct affect” on six people.  This means that at least six people were affected enough to cause them to alter their daily life patterns.  I believe this number is low.  Of course, many, many more people are saddened by the loss.

In his book “Deaths of Man,” E. Schneidman wrote,

“The largest public health problem is neither the prevention of suicide nor the management of suicide attempts but the alleviation of the effects of stress in the survivors whose lives are forever altered.”

Some of you may know this already…my paternal Grandfather lost his life to suicide.  I was not born when this occurred, but his actions prevented me from ever getting to know him, and him, me.  Who knows, we may have been best friends.

Those of us who are suicide loss survivors are no doubt forced into an association that we wish we were never placed in, and really, didn’t even know existed in the first place.  It’s well known that most people who take their life suffer from a diagnosable mental illness.  Even though suicide has been on the rise since 1999, I truly believe that due to our better understanding of mental illness and the continual destigmatization surrounding it, suicide rates will go down.  There are many organizations supporting those who are contemplating suicide, as well as suicide loss survivors.  There are crisis chat lines, crisis texting help and even “apps” for assistance.  Organizations like Active Minds, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and others openly discuss suicide prevention and have information readily available for suicide loss survivors.

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Being that I never met my Grandfather, I will say I don’t suffer the anguish as a parent does who has lost a child, or someone who has lost a good friend or another family member that they have a deep bond with.  During my career with the California Highway Patrol I encountered hundreds of people contemplating suicide on the Golden Gate Bridge (GGB).  Most “negotiations” were successful.  But there are also those encounters with people with whom I was not able to help and they did in fact, perish.  These encounters have significantly affected me, pushing my desire to help others to the forefront.

kevin-briggs-suicide-blog-social-mediaIn my discussions with family members from those lost on the GGB and many, many others in my travels speaking about suicide prevention and crisis intervention, I see time and time again the pain left from loss. Some people say this is a ripple effect from the suicide.  I can tell you the devastation is bigger than a ripple.  It is a tsunami, a hurricane that strikes hard and leaves in its wake sadness, grief, unanswered questions and even guilt.  Those left behind wonder what they could have done to prevent the tragedy.  Please believe me when I tell you the action of the family member or friend was not your fault.  The act of suicide is a personal one, not selfish, and in almost every case, not intended to cause pain or anguish to anyone.  The common purpose of why a person dies by suicide generally, is to seek a solution to the intolerable psychological pain they are in. Their crisis management skills have been exhausted and they feel hopeless about their situation.

What can those of us do that are left behind, the suicide loss survivors?  Do our best to live a life of happiness, continual growth and service to your community.  This is what those who have lost their life would wish for you, I’m sure.

I urge everyone to take some time on November 19 to recognize not only suicide loss survivors, but all who have lost their life to suicide.  There are a number of events taking place worldwide.  I’ve listed a few websites below for additional information.

God bless and keep each other safe,

Kevin

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:  https://afsp.org

National Alliance on Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org

Survivors of Suicide Loss: https://www.soslsd.org

Happier Holidays: Tips to De-stress and Enjoy Your Break

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This time of year can be the best: heading back home, family-time, food everywhere, gift-giving!

But the holidays can also be the worst: heading back home, family-time, food everywhere, gift-giving.

The way you view the holiday season can depend on a lot of different factors. Does traveling back to your home town make you excited or anxious? Does your family make you feel comfortable or alienated? For many of us, it’s complicated.

The holidays can be particularly hard for those struggling with mental health. There are a lot of changes in the routine you’ve set up for yourself at school, some of the coping mechanisms or support networks you’ve built may not be available, forced family meals can be triggering and uncomfortable, and financial stress of holiday shopping can compile to make your relaxing break anything but relaxing.

Luckily, we have some tips for you to kick this holiday break’s butt! If you’re feeling down, upset, confused, or in a funk over the next month or so, try some of these tips:

  1. Make some “you” time.

Put on your comfiest clothes, shut your door, load up the Netflix, and do what you want to do. Sometimes stepping away from everyone and everything can really help you relax. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing most, do it as much as you need.

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Annual Awards Winners

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award_winners_blogpostLast week we hosted the National Mental Health on Campus Conference in Sacramento, CA, where we announced the winners of the 2015-2016 Active Minds awards. We’re proud to share the winners with you on the blog today. Congratulations to all!

  • Chapter of the Year 2015-2016: Active Minds at Auburn University
  • Student Leader of the Year 2015-2016: Andrea Nguyen
  • Advisor of the Year 2015-2016: Stephanie Preston, Active Minds at San Jose State University
  • Alumni of the Year 2015-2016: Dayna Altman, alumnus, Active Minds at Northeastern University
  • Programming Innovation Award: Active Minds at Tufts University
  • Fundraising Innovation Award: Active Minds at Denison University
  • Margaret Clark Morgan Transformational Change Award: Active Minds at University of Portland
  • Road Runner Award: Active Minds at Elkhorn South High School

We’re so proud of you, Stigma Fighters!

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