Chapters 101

Chapter of the Month: Occidental College

1425555_253282681496020_167931192_nOccidental College has been named Chapter of the Month for May! Their stigma-fighting techniques have caught our eye and we want every chapter to know about them, too.

Active Minds at Occidental College did not rest for a minute this spring semester, working continuously to break the barriers to mental health services on campus.

In addition to leading a diverse panel of 10 students who spoke openly about their mental health issues to a large classroom of peers, the chapter was also recently recognized for their on-campus advocacy for the addition of a peer mentoring program in the counseling center.

Featured in the Occidental Weekly, a student-run paper at Occidental College, the chapter hosted a successful mental health panel of diverse students on Thursday, April 17th, and they were also recently recognized for their successful advocacy for the establishment of a new peer mentoring program—all in one year!

Students who attended the panel noted how eye-opening it was to listen to peers share their personal struggles with mental health, because it is a topic that is not normally discussed in regular conversation. The chapter also conducted considerable outreach to include more diverse voices in the conversation, including those of males and students of color, and noted the importance of breaking down gender and racial barriers through story-sharing.

Active Minds at Oxy were also instrumental in gathering signatures for a petition in support of the establishment of a peer mentoring program in the health center, a mental health presentation during new student orientation, and the installment of a case manager at Emmons Student Wellness Center. After two weeks of working, Active Minds at Oxy received 550 signatures.

This past year, Matt Calkins, Director of the Counseling Center, approached Active Minds to tell them he was going to create the peer mentoring program. Incorporating this program into the health center allows students to work directly with Emmons Wellness Center, which provides students the opportunity to have their voices heard on matters that directly impact them.

The students selected will undergo intensive training on topics such as active listening, motivational interviewing skills and special topics like drug and alcohol abuse, sexual assault and medical health advocacy.

Congrats to Active Minds at Oxy for all of their successful stigmafighting efforts! Implementing a program this large is a major programming success for a chapter and the national office could not be more proud!