Chapters 101

Chapter of the Month

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.