Chapters 101 – Active Minds Blog http://activemindsblog.org Changing the conversation about mental health Mon, 10 Jul 2017 17:03:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Active Minds in the Community http://activemindsblog.org/active-minds-in-the-community/ Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:40:25 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6556

Active Minds is all about raising mental health awareness on campus. However, chapters are also part of larger communities that could benefit from our messaging, too!  We interviewed Floie Stouder, the advisor for Active Minds at Indiana University – Purdue University at Fort Wayne (IPFW), and Diana Mathew and Brynne Alexander, president and vice president of Active Minds at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), to get some pointers on how your chapter can become more integrated with your local community.

  1. Make community connections through your campus counseling center.

Whether you have a staff liaison in the counselor center or your advisor is on the counseling staff, ask your campus counseling center about local organizations you could partner with. They may know of ongoing and upcoming activities with local mental health organizations and other relevant organizations. Stouder shared, “If the therapist that works with the chapter knows the community and has connections, and students make themselves aware of what [volunteer opportunities are] out there, they can decide as a team what they want to participate in that fits the mission of Active Minds.”

  1. Link up with local chapters of major mental health groups and related organizations.

Most regions across the country have local chapters of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).  Have your chapter register for their community walks or volunteer at their community events. To this point, Alexander emphasized, “The simple act of searching for various organizations like NAMI or AFSP and reaching out to them goes a long way. See when they have meeting times, and attend! See when they are planning community events and offer those as volunteer events for your chapter members.”

For instance, the IPFW chapter has volunteered at a local bereavement center called Erin’s House. Stouder explained, “This is a place in the community for grieving families and children who have lost loved ones to go for meetings and support. Once a year, I have new Active Minds students tour Erin’s House to promote awareness. Sometimes, someone commits to [regularly] volunteering for Erin’s House.” Turning a one-time service event into a regular volunteer activity can strengthen your ties to the community and give you perspective on how mental health factors into real-world situations.

  1. Create an officer position devoted to service events.

If planning outreach activities is not currently within the scope of your executive board, create a position for a volunteer/outreach coordinator. Have the coordinator research volunteer opportunities in your community, including at hospitals, local schools, bereavement centers, children’s and women’s shelters, and mental health centers, and schedule a few hours one weekend to serve. Your chapter could even set up a bimonthly/monthly volunteer schedule with one or more organizations, if your chapter members express interest in doing so. Subscribing to the e-mailing lists for these organizations is a good way to stay up-to-date with upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Your volunteer/outreach coordinator should strive to make service events as inclusive and convenient as possible. For volunteer events held on the weekends, public transportation may not be running as per usual, which may make getting off campus difficult. Mathew and Alexander recommended that chapter members meet at a central location on campus and then carpool to volunteer events. Your volunteer/outreach coordinator can offer club credits or incentives to members who attend, and offer extra credits to those who offer their vehicles to carpool!

  1. Partner with other related student organizations for their community service events.

A great way to strengthen or develop partnerships on campus is to join another student organization’s service events. Connect with the leadership in other organizations over email, send a representative to other organizations’ general meetings, or, as Mathew suggested, “Ask if any of your chapter members are involved in other organizations with upcoming volunteer opportunities.”  This will allow your chapter to foster meaningful partnerships and coordinate collaborative service events. For example, the Active Minds chapter at UTSA has previously coordinated with the student psychology club for joint volunteer events at the San Antonio State Hospital.

Alexander shared, “We’ve found that most ideas that we have, like screening a movie about depression or hosting a tabling event about sexual assault, have a much greater impact through partnerships and communication with other student organizations. It’s most important to keep an open mind about potential collaborations; don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone that could be of help to your cause.”

 

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April Chapter of the Month: Virginia State University http://activemindsblog.org/april-chapter-of-the-month-virginia-state-university/ Fri, 21 Apr 2017 12:00:24 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6448

Congratulations to the Active Minds chapter at Virginia State University for being selected as the April Chapter of the Month!  The chapter’s stigma-fighting programs this semester have successfully generated conversations about mental health on the VSU campus, and the national office couldn’t be prouder to recognize their efforts.

Active Minds at VSU recently hosted Happiness Day to promote positivity and well-being to the campus community.  The chapter set up an interactive display in a highly-trafficked area of campus and drew students, faculty, and staff to the event to engage with items that represented happiness.  The chapter also distributed freebies with positive messaging to attendees, which was clearly appreciated during what can be a stressful spring semester.

Additionally, the chapter created a short and engaging video that showcases what students think when they hear about “mental health issues.”  Students who were interviewed for the video were cognizant of the impact that stigma has and mentioned the importance of raising awareness for mental health on college campuses and within minority communities.

In September 2016, the chapter collaborated with their local Community Service Board and held a suicide awareness walk on campus followed by a suicide awareness forum.  At the forum, students had open discussions about how suicide had impacted their lives and the importance of seeking help.  The chapter’s suicide prevention messaging reached 60 members of the campus community through these two events and deepened their ties to their local community.

What’s been instrumental to the chapter’s success at VSU so far?  Their executive board says, “It is important to find a core group of volunteers who support the mission of Active Minds and are committed to getting out the message and having creative programs on campus. We have student volunteers who are passionate about the cause and have personal connections to those suffering from mental illness. We also have an advisor who is very committed to the mission of Active Minds and supportive of our ideas.”

Next up in the spring semester, Active Minds at VSU plans to collaborate with the Violence Prevention Coordinator and have a tabling event for Safety Day, which will feature a variety of speakers and informational tables to raise awareness for mental health, suicide awareness and prevention, alcohol awareness and prevention, sexual assault awareness and prevention, fire safety, and personal safety on campus. The chapter will also host activities during Stress Less Week to remind students of the importance of self-care during finals.

Congratulations again to Active Minds at Virginia State University!  The national office is inspired by the work you are doing on your campus and in your local community to fight stigma and raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.

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For the Future Success of Your Chapter http://activemindsblog.org/for-the-future-success-of-your-chapter/ Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:25:31 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6545 Summer is right around the corner! We can practically smell the sea breeze and the barbecues and many of you are looking forward to graduation and new challenges ahead. In all of the excitement, it can be hard to effectively wrap up your chapter activities and prepare your new leaders to thrive in the fall. Never fear, we have new resources available to help you make your leadership transition smooth and successful!

Here are some tips we’ve heard from chapter leaders about successful leadership transition to get you thinking:

  • Allison, The University of Rochester: “Create a way for there to be transparency between new outgoing and incoming leaders so they can share what the positions entail. They can also remind new members to keep good self-care routines.”
  • Russell, University of Maine: “We’ve kept a binder of information and records about things we’ve done in the past that pass it on to new leaders every year. If a new leader is feeling lost they can often refer to the binder for help.”
  • Kristina, Denison University: “Make sure outgoing leaders provide their new contact information so they can be reached if needed.”
  • Nycole, Marquette University: “Along with keeping records of our past activities we do team bonding and different activities for the new and outgoing executive board members. This helps them start to get to know each other and helps them learn about their upcoming roles and responsibilities.”

Another tip is to think about how your chapter leadership is structured. Are responsibilities equally distributed among your executive board? Are your general members involved in planning or otherwise have a natural path to taking on leadership eventually? Here are two different structures that we’ve seen work well when a traditional set up wasn’t doing the trick:

  • Saint Michael’s College holds elections in the fall semester to elect juniors and sophomores to leadership roles. The newly elected students shadow the seniors who have had a year of leadership experience and learn about their roles, different leadership styles, and help plan the coming year of events. In the spring semester, the seniors step down from their roles letting the underclassmen run the chapter but are there for support and guidance.
  • The University of Maryland and UCLA both have a committee structure that engages more leaders and members and may be well suited for schools with large chapters. There is an overall executive board managing all of the different parts of what is happening but smaller committees have their own leadership and member base for different initiatives, such a Stress Less Week, collaborating with the Student Veterans office, or social media and marketing. This gives younger leaders an opportunity to practice and hone their skill in smaller scale settings and engages general members effectively to keep them coming back to meetings and events.

Do you have other leadership transition tips? Having some trouble figuring out the best plan for your chapter? We want to hear from you! Email us at chapters@activeminds.org and let us help you brainstorm! And don’t forget to check out our new and improved Leadership Transition Resources and the Leadership Transition Notebook!

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Chapter of the Month http://activemindsblog.org/chapter-of-the-month/ Thu, 23 Mar 2017 12:00:55 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6336 Congratulations to Active Minds at the University of Maine for being selected as the March Chapter of the Month!  Their efforts to raise awareness for mental health on their campus have been innovative and engaging, and the national office is excited to recognize UMaine for their awesome stigma-fighting work.

One of AM at UMaine’s biggest strengths is programming. In honor of National Day Without Stigma, UMaine hosted a tabling event called “Watch Your Mouth,” where students took a pledge to be more mindful of their language to avoid stigmatizing those with mental health conditions. The chapter took pictures of visitors with the pledge and provided mental health resources at this event.

Last month, AM at UMaine hosted their first-ever Mental Health Monologues, a story-telling event where students shared their experiences with mental health and illness. A total of thirteen performances depicted true, personal stories of the struggle, hope and healing associated with topics like self-harm, suicide, depression, and anxiety. With more than 200 people in attendance, this event successfully combated stigma by encouraging open and honest dialogue about mental health and illness among UMaine’s students.  Watch UMaine’s Mental Health Monologues event here!

The chapter also raffled off self-care baskets to raise funds during the event. Post-event surveys indicated that the Mental Health Monologues program was extremely well-received, with attendees requesting that the chapter to host the event again next year. Looking ahead to the remainder of the spring semester, AM at UMaine has potential collaborations with local mental health organizations on deck.

Co-president Russell Fascione shared two tips for chapters seeking to grow their programming and fundraising efforts. “First, utilize the Program Bank on the Active Minds website! It not only gives you ideas, but also tells you the successes and downfalls of the programs so that you can easily assess how you might do something similar on your campus and get the best possible results.”

“Second, just have a good ol’ brainstorming session with your chapter, asking them things like, ‘Out of everything we’ve done before, what’s worked and what hasn’t?’, ‘Do we want to build on the things we’ve done or do something totally new?’, and ‘What do the students here need to know about mental health?’ Encourage creativity and get everyone involved so that no idea seems too big to pull off.”

What does UMaine’s e-board consider to be the key to their chapter’s success? “Making sure no member’s strengths go unnoticed. Utilizing the connections and talents of every member seems like a no-brainer, but it’s key, especially when planning big events or multiple programs and fundraisers at once.”

Congratulations again to the Active Minds chapter at the University of Maine!  The national office is proud of your efforts to host inclusive and educational programs and to promote mindful discussion about mental health on your campus and beyond.

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February Chapter of the Month: University of Michigan http://activemindsblog.org/february-chapter-of-the-month-university-of-michigan/ Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:00:05 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6198

Congratulations to Active Minds at the University of Michigan for being selected as the February Chapter of the Month!  Their advocacy efforts have generated countless conversations about mental health at U of M and beyond, and have yielded hundreds of dollars for the life-changing work we do at Active Minds.

In fall 2016, Active Minds at the University of Michigan was recognized for their mental health advocacy efforts in Mentality Magazine, a new, semesterly publication at U of M with a focus on mental health on campus.  Highlighted in the article was the chapter’s partnership with community-based organizations for mental health; Active Minds at U of M has raised over $2,000 for suicide prevention efforts and strengthened their chapter’s connection to the larger Ann Arbor community along the way.

The fundraising prowess of Active Minds at U of M doesn’t stop there:  the chapter has also teamed up with their university’s food provider, Sodexo, to work the concession stands at athletic events and raise money for Active Minds, Inc.  So far, the chapter has raised over $1,500 for our stigma-fighting efforts!

Active Minds at U of M has also partnered with various on-campus organizations in the last year to raise awareness about mental health and connect their fellow Wolverines to resources.  Frequent collaborators include Counseling and Psychological Services at U of M, Wolverine Support Network (a peer-led support group), the Depression Center, and Student Government.  In October 2016, Active Minds at U of M worked with their student government to host Mental Health Awareness Day, a day-long event that featured free breakfast and a town hall discussion with administration to discuss student mental health.

Next up, Active Minds at U of M will coordinate several events for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, including an a capella fundraising concert, a student speaker discussion event regarding eating disorder recovery, a faculty panel discussing  research on eating disorders, and tabling for awareness throughout the week.

On April 1st and 2nd, Active Minds at U of M will be hosting their third-annual Mental Health Monologues, a signature event where students can share their stories with mental health through dance, song, poetry, and other creative outlets.   The stories cover a range of topics, including what it’s like living with various diagnoses, dealing with a family member’s mental illness, and addressing the stigma of talking about mental health.

When asked to provide advice for chapters looking to expand their fundraising efforts and partnerships on campus, the executive board replied, “Just go for it! Reach out to a wide range of people, organizations, and student government bodies to find connections to mental health that relate to their interests — mental health relates to everyone! It helps to think of ‘mental health’ from different angles. We also have gotten creative with our events -some examples include collaborating with our state’s basketball team, the Detroit Pistons, to fundraise for tickets, creating our own bracelets in collaboration with Pura Vida, and having a concert dedicated to eating disorder awareness.”

Congratulations again to the Active Minds chapter at the University of Michigan!   The national office is proud of your tireless and creative efforts to fight the stigma and foster a friendly climate for mental health on your campus and beyond.

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Mental Health Advice I Would Give My Freshman Self http://activemindsblog.org/mental-health-advice-i-would-give-my-freshman-self/ Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:40:03 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6188 I am now in my final semester of college. I am so proud of myself for making it this far. Despite living with depression and anxiety, I have had an amazing college experience. 4 years of learning mind-blowing concepts, developing career skills, taking scary risks, and forging new paths. 4 years of fighting for my mental health. Four years of Active Minds and mental health activism.

If I could go back in time to the day I started college I would find that young college girl with wide eyes. I would take her by the hand and tell her to not be so scared.  I would tell her that the future was bright. And I would give her some advice.

  1. Stop sleeping in till noon on the weekends and rising at 6 during the week. Find a consistent bedtime and wake up time and do your best to stick to it. Wildly changing your sleep schedule every few days will catch up to you. I promise
  2. Don’t take your classes so seriously. Especially those gen ed’s. Seriously. Work hard, but don’t worry yourself into frenzy over communications 101. Save that panic for that senior seminar.
  3. Pick one weekend day for homework, errands, and tidying up your place. Spend the other weekend day relaxing and socializing. That balance will keep you sane week to week.
  4. Ask your professors for extensions when you need them. They will surprise you with their compassion. When you are sick or get into a car accident or need to leave campus for a few days, having an extra 24 hours can make all the difference. Use it.
  5. Keep meeting with your therapist on campus. Talking through things helps. Even when it feels like it’s making it worse
  6. Try running. Or Zumba. Or weight lifting. Don’t make gigantic fitness goals that you don’t have time or energy for—this is college after all. But aim to work out two or three times a week.
  7. Find a really good playlist that will soothe you on your anxious days
  8. Confront that issue with your roommate. Don’t let that resentment fester another day. Come on, Elizabeth. Do it.
  9. Call your mom. Even on the days you don’t feel proud of yourself and don’t want to tell her about school. Give her a call.
  10. Delete the Facebook app off your phone. You can do it. Your grades and mental health will thank you.
  11. Learn how to make really awesome smoothies. Maybe salad too. Who knows? You might like it.
  12. Don’t go a week without doing something social. Finals week is not an exception.
  13. Tell your boyfriend that you have depression. He will be so much more kind, understanding, and supportive than you can imagine. Hiding your mental illness doesn’t make it go away. Sharing your struggle with your loved ones will lighten the load and open up new intimacy in the relationship. Trust me.
  14. Join Active Minds. Stick with Active Minds. It will change your life.

Elizabeth is a chapter leader at the University of Alaska Anchorage and a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee

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January Chapter of the Month: Providence College http://activemindsblog.org/january-chapter-of-the-month-providence-college/ Mon, 30 Jan 2017 14:50:41 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6124

 

We here at the national office would like to send a huge congratulation to our first Chapter of the Month of 2017, Providence College!
Our Active Minds chapter at Providence College is in no means our largest (their student body is under 5,000 people!), however they show us that you do not need a large chapter or to be from a large school to make a huge impact.

    

Active Minds at Providence College hosted a particularly unique, visual event this fall: The Balloon Project.  Their executive board worked collaboratively to design posters that showed the statistic that 1 in 4 people will struggle with mental illness in their lifetime and mounted them on easels around campus. They tied four balloons to each easel, three blue and one green, to show the statistic visually.    The posters were placed in a variety of high traffic areas on campus and along with educating about the prevalence of mental health issues they listed information about their upcoming chapter meetings with an invitation to the wider campus community to join them. Events like this really help others on campus to see that there are like-minded people out there trying to raise awareness to end the stigma of mental illness.

    

Active Minds at Providence College is also working hard to build relationships with other groups on campus. One of their biggest efforts right now is to enhance their relationship with the Personal Counseling Center and other healthy living initiatives on their campus. They believe that through this relationship they can better understand the specific needs of their community.  Active Minds at Providence College was also just recently added to a proposal for the development of space on their campus that would give their club an office which would help cement their important position in the campus community and would allow them a formal space to build connections with other faculty, staff, and students whose goals are similarly aligned with theirs.

In January Active Minds at Providence College’s co-presidents, Cassandra and Colleen, were interviewed for an article in the Providence Journal, which made it onto the front page! They discussed what they do at Providence College to be #stigmafighters and the overall importance of having your voice be heard within the student body and also by the larger administration.  We here at the national office always love hearing about chapters who get recognition for their work in the local news and were so impressed by their interview and representation of our chapter leaders.

Active Minds at Providence College has a wonderful and inspiring outlook on how to have a successful chapter on any campus.  They believe that you have to start small and remember why you started the fight against stigma in the first place. They encourage using that passion in your meetings, and in your discussions with your peers, as it is extremely important in truly getting people to “buy in” and get involved with you. They told us how at event planning and weekly meetings, even with low turnout numbers, they persist, and, at the end of the day their hard work is paying off in their relationship with their administration and the visibility and status they have as a campus organizations.   To quote one executive board member in their talks with us, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and having a successful chapter isn’t easy, but it definitely takes time.”

Finally, when asked how they would make recommendations to other chapters based on their own experiences, they say that one the biggest ways to increase a club’s visibility is to reach out to other clubs and organizations, and to talk to students about what their needs are in terms of mental health. They also go on to say that although they are not a support group or experts in the field of psychology, it is important to have that relationship with an on-campus counseling center. “Being able to bring student concerns to them and really advocate for student needs is an important part of standing up to stigma on a college campus.”

We here at the national office are so incredibly proud of the hard work Active Minds at Providence College is doing, and cannot wait to hear about more future success from them.

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Hone Your Storytelling Superpowers with Our Stories, Our Strengths http://activemindsblog.org/hone-your-storytelling-superpowers-with-our-stories-our-strengths/ Fri, 13 Jan 2017 20:01:15 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6062 Hey, Stigma Fighter, I see you. You do cool things on your campus to get people talking about mental health and your stigma fighting tool belt is pretty rad, full of buttons, information cards, pledge stickers, and resources. However, I have a recommendation for a new tool: the Active Minds storytelling course, “Our Stories, Our Strength.” I took it over the summer and came up three pretty solid reasons why you should take it this semester.

1. It’s a great way to meet new people passionate about mental health

Being a stigma fighter is great, but being a stigma fighter is also tough. Trying to change a culture is hard, especially when it seems like you’re trying to change it alone. One of the reasons conference is so great is because it brings a lot of stigma fighters from around the country together – and this is what happens in the “Our Stories, Our Strength” course! I’m from Pennsylvania, and I was the only person in the class from Pennsylvania. I wouldn’t have met any of the people I took the class with if I hadn’t taken it, because we were from different corners of the United States. It’s a great (and necessary) reminder that there are lots of us working to change the culture to make it more positive for mental health and, it’s also super great to talk about programming ideas and strategies with classmates and to support each other in our journeys.

2. People are transformed by stories

I don’t want to give away too much, because there will be discussion of storytelling in the class, but it isn’t really a secret that people are transformed by the power of a good story – book writing and publishing is still a pretty lucrative business, and that’s an industry that has been around for centuries! We all have favorite stories, and storybook characters – many of whom remind us of ourselves and may have even helped us get through a tough time we had. This is definitely a super power that every human, in some small or large way, possesses. Remember the Disney movie, Sky High, where the kids of superheroes went to a special high school to learn how to use the powers they inherited from their parents? If superheroes need to practice to utilize their powers, and storytelling is a super power we have as humans, then we also need to practice storytelling to cultivate it as a super power. This course will do exactly that – walk you through the process of cultivating your story. And more importantly, it will teach you how to do it safely, for both yourself and your audience, which is important when dealing with sensitive topics like mental health.

3. You get to celebrate yourself

Chances are, if you’re in a position where you’re considering sharing your mental health story, you’ve been through and overcome a lot. Whether it’s your own personal battle with a mental illness, or your journey supporting a friend or family member, in order to share it, you have to reflect upon it. And, as you reflect upon who you are and where you’ve been, you might be surprised to find out yourself what you’ve been through and overcome, because it’s hard to get a full picture of what is happening in your life as you’re experiencing it. I guarantee that when you step back and look at your journey with mental health, you’ll be proud of who you are, where you’ve been and what you’ve overcome. And when you share your story with the other people taking your class, they get to share in the joy of your victory with you. And if you choose to continue to share your story, in large venues or small ones, you’ll continue to find more and more people to share your joy with, and maybe even inspire someone to keep persevering in their journey (although this kind of ties in with reason #2). Yes, storytelling can be hard and emotionally draining as you think about some of the hardest times of your life, but it can also be fulfilling and rewarding when you compare who you were then to who you are now and see how far you’ve come.

 

So what are you waiting for? Registration for the class opens on January 16th and content is available on January 30th, with online meetings happening the entire month of February. It’s a great addition to your tool belt, Stigma Fighter, and it will help you reach more and more people and transform their lives with the power of who you are (which is a pretty awesome power, because you are pretty awesome), and continue to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health disorders.

Emily Ahlin is a chapter leader at the University of Pittsburgh and a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee. 

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What We Learned From Your Fall Inventory Feedback http://activemindsblog.org/what-we-learned-from-your-fall-inventory-feedback/ Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:17:23 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=5936 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!

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November Chapter of the Month: Ithaca College http://activemindsblog.org/november-chapter-of-the-month-ithaca-college/ Fri, 02 Dec 2016 14:29:48 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=5940 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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Their chapter conducted over 8 original programs this quarter, reaching up to 80 active attendees at their Moment of Silence, Moment of Action event; a vigil for suicide prevention and mental health advocacy, at which members called upon their peers to honor the 1,100 students who die by suicide each year, shared resources and invited participants to take part in small group discussions. The display consisted of 1,100 decorated luminaries on the academic quad lawn, which were decorated by students who stopped by the Active Minds table in the week prior to the event.

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“The Moment of Silence, Moment of Action” event was their favorite memory from the quarter with us, as it was their first time doing it, causing them to really rally together to pull it off. They also conducted other successful Suicide Prevention Month programming. One being #ReasonsISpeak, tabling, posters, and a student-led panel. They estimate that about 250 students participated or interacted with their Suicide Prevention displays and programs.

 

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The panel for suicide awareness and prevention, entitled “Let’s Talk,” brought together students to share stories about their personal experiences with suicide loss survival and suicide attempt survival. The discussion was subsequently opened up to a Q&A with the audience. Active Minds members, in conjunction with Speak Your Mind, a student panel, moderated the conversation to ensure a safe environment, and also provided information and resources.

Other programs included “Scare Away the Stigma,” a presentation on how certain Halloween tropes perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental health and engender negative views towards individuals with mental illnesses, by way of horror movies, haunted houses in asylums, stigmatized costumes and the like.  They also held two other Autumn-themed events, a Trick-Or-Treat Fundraiser, consisting of selling candy, and an Apply Picking & Baking social outing. Additional events include their participation in a walk for suicide prevention and a board game night.

When asked about their chapter’s strengths and their success with Giving Tuesday, their Chapter President, Alex Lopez, stated that they were “amazed at how much we raised, I really didn’t expect it. I think one of the strengths of our chapter is our strong base of general body members who are willing to be vulnerable and share their stories, whether through our Speak Your Mind Panel program or during social media campaigns.”

The integration of “Speak Your Mind” programs into classrooms, has also proven to be a very strong asset in their community. From our standpoint, it seems as though creativity and mere presence on campus are also among their most notable strengths.

Another major achievement was being highlighted by the media. In November, their school publication, The Ithacan, had a piece entitled “CAPS’ wait times increase as more students request services.” The piece described IC Active Minds as a “club dedicated to raising awareness to mental illness on Ithaca College’s campus.”

Just taking a look at their events page on Facebook shows how dedicated the Ithaca Chapter is. They have held countless other events such as, most recently, a general body discussion on Mental Health & Prisons, a Krispy Kreme fundraiser, a Q&A with a psychiatrist. Additionally, much like their Mental Health & Prisons program, they have held programs discussing mental health in relation to veterans, politics, medication, as well as the LGBTQ community and coming out. Even more programming included a family game night, and a Rocky Horror Picture Show Social Event.

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This tireless chapter has even more programming in the upcoming week, with “De Stress Fest” taking place December 14, in an effort to promote positive mental health as students commence Finals Week. Chapter members and students alike will be doing yoga, meditating and making arts & crafts. Ithaca’s ingenuity is clear in their choice of craft, making glitter jars, also called “calm down jars.” Students will also be able to play with kinetic sand, and enjoy Moe’s catering.

Keep up the incredible work, Ithaca!! And good luck on finals.

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