Active Minds Blog http://activemindsblog.org Changing the conversation about mental health Wed, 27 Dec 2017 16:05:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.4 When Kindness Really Rocks http://activemindsblog.org/when-kindness-really-rocks/ Wed, 27 Dec 2017 16:05:19 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6978 ActiveMinds is new at UMSL this semester and our first tabling was a huge success, but it was in the last few minutes of the four-hour event that I felt the most impact. A gentleman that I will call N.N. (his initials) was delivering flowers on campus.  I was almost packed up and ready to go when he stopped by to ask what our table was about, noting the sign on the front of the table read “Kindness Rocks.”

N.N. said he was an artist and I asked if wanted to decorate a rock. I handed him one of the bigger rocks and pointed him to the gold and silver markers — he laughed and asked if I was psychic because those were the colors he wanted.  He drew a yin yang on the rock with the gold and silver, and asked if I knew anything about it. I told him that it’s about balance and he told me that’s true, but it’s about more than that.  He said that typically the yin yang is done in black and white, with a little speck of black in the white and a little speck of white in the black.  He went on to say that people were the same and if you go back far enough there’s black and white in every person. I laughed and told him that it was ironic that he should say that because my family had done the ancestry DNA and more than one close family member came back with a tiny bit of Africa in them.

Then he did something that really made me think.  N.N. put his arm next to mine, pointed at one of my freckles and said, “see that’s the same color as me” and then showed me his palm.  Even more powerful he shook my hand and showed me his hand with my thumb on it, equating it to the yin yang with the black side and a little bit of white and flipped our hands so that I was seeing my hand with his thumb on it.  Finally he turned our hands so that our thumbs were both facing up and it resembled the overall yin yang symbol.

This brief interaction had such a profound effect because of the current state of the area that N.N. and I both live in.  St. Louis has been riddled with conflict this year.  I’m not going to get into the politics of it all because what matters is that during a time of extreme divide in our area, this wonderful soul and I shared a few moments where we were learning from each other and open to what the other had to say.

He made me promise to keep the rock he created and I will, but I will also use it as an example and a display of what beauty duality can create when they come together in peace.

Christy is a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee and a chapter leader at University of Missouri at St. Louis.

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Reflection and Resilience http://activemindsblog.org/reflection-and-resilience/ Wed, 20 Dec 2017 16:58:00 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=7050

Can you believe it’s already December? Before we know it, 2017 will have passed and 2018 will be on its way. As is such, many of my friends, family members, and classmates have begun reminiscing and reflecting on the ups and downs that came with 2017. And I’ve been reflecting as well, though more about how the first semester of my senior year at Denison has gone so far, rather than 2017 as a whole.

I came across a quote the other day that really encapsulated my personal ups and downs this semester. Oddly enough, I found it in a super dense political theory book we read in my Senior Seminar this past week, but I guess good things often come out of unexpected places. The quote read, “in such an environment, we experience what feel like world-ending feelings, [but] we–and the world–survive” (Bonnie Honig’s “Public Things”, page 79). While in this particular section, Honig was talking about a very specific metaphor for neo-liberalism, this idea was really striking to me: “we experience what feel like world-ending feelings, but we–and the world–survive.”

Earlier this fall, I experienced those world-ending feelings, and now, months later, I can say that I’ve survived. About three weeks into the semester, my serious, long-term, long-distance boyfriend dumped me. On a Saturday night. Over FaceTime. Without a lot of detailed explanation. So, to put it bluntly: it really sucked, and my world definitely felt like it was ending.

We’d gone from meeting each other’s extended families, traveling together, and making big future plans (involving joint leases, joint pets, and literally spending the rest of our lives together) to an “I’ve gotta go,” an ended call, and a black screen. He had been my first “I love you,” the first person I thought about when I woke up, and the last person I thought about before I went to bed for over a year, and just like that, we were done. My heart broke into a million little pieces that night, and I’ve worked really hard to stitch it back up, piece by piece, since.

Sitting here now, it’s tough to think about those initial feelings and dark spots right after we broke up. There were many nights that no matter how hard I resisted, I burst into tears until I could collect myself and get to sleep. I took down pictures, took shirts out of drawers, and threw everything that even vaguely reminded me of him–of us–into a paper bag that’s now shoved in the black hole that is my closet. I deleted songs from my Spotify, stopped sharing calendars, and crossed out reminders and countdowns that didn’t matter anymore. He was gone. It was done.

Although times were really tough for a while, just like Bonnie Honig predicted, the world survived, and so did I. That is not to say though, that I woke up one day and things had magically healed themselves–this is where the reflection portion comes in. Over the last 3 months, I have exerted an immeasurable amount of energy into taking care of myself and trying to bounce back from the very real feeling that my world was ending.

There have been so many moving parts–people, places, phone calls–that have been essential to regaining my resilience this semester, all falling under this big umbrella of self-care. Like fellow SAC member/my good friend Maura said in her post about exam season , it’s essential to schedule self care into your daily/weekly routine. Actively scheduling self care into my routine has been instrumental in my recovery and resilience this semester, and there are so many ways to integrate self care into yours! Check out some of my ideas below:

  • Get lunch, dinner, or coffee with classmates or friends. We all need to eat and grabbing a meal with a friend is a great way to schedule social time/self-care and take care of your most basic needs. Win-win.

  • Phone calls or Face-Time dates with long-distance friends or relatives! Call your grandma and update her about your semester, FaceTime a friend from back home or a college friend who graduated that you might not have talked to in a while.

  • Schedule a counseling appointment with your campus’ Counseling Services (if applicable). If you can’t get an appointment, see if your counseling center offers walk-in hours or if you could even talk to a counselor on the phone after-hours.

    • Denison people, hit me up for more info on our counseling center, but the rest of the world, check out the SAMSHA treatment locator to find a provider near you. In crisis, you can always reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or Crisis Text Line by texting “BRAVE” to 741-741.

  • Start that new Netflix show everyone’s been talking about! Stranger Things 2 anyone?

  • Find something outside of the classroom where you can de-stress and relax, and that you can look forward to every week, whether that’s a weekly hike, an extra-curricular you’re involved in, a workout session at the gym, treating yourself to dinner off campus, a bubble bath, or 50 other ideas here

  • Take time at the end of every day to reflect on a high point (sometimes referred to as a rose or a peach), a low point (again, sometimes a thorn or a pit), and something you’re looking forward to in the near future.

Coming off of my ideas for self-care, earlier this week I had a 90 minute phone call catch-up session with my grandma, whom I am very close to. When I told her I was writing about resilience for this blog post, she passed along an article called “The Secrets of Resilient People.” In a list of eight secrets the author attributes to “resilient people”, Keeping Faith in Yourself is listed as Secret #6, wherein the author notes that “to successfully deal with the currents of life, you have to most of all keep faith in yourself. Know that you have all the resources needed to deal with any life situation. Do not be sidetracked by your mind that tries to make you believe you are inadequate or that you need something from somewhere, or someone, to solve a problem. You don’t.” The most important step in my journey of resilience and reflection this fall has been exactly this, actively believing in and keeping faith in myself.

Brooke is a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee and a chapter leader at Denison University.

1 Note: This book I’m referencing is Bonnie Honig’s “Public Things”, published by Fordham University Press in 2017
2 “Managing Wellness During Exam Season”, Maura Barrett– Oct 29, 2017
3 The Secrets of Resilient People by Gilbert Ross: http://upliftconnect.com/the-secrets-of-resilient-people/, Nov 24, 2017

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Campus Mental Health “Crisis” or “Opportunity”? http://activemindsblog.org/campus-mental-health-crisis-or-opportunity/ Mon, 18 Dec 2017 15:13:45 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=7084 We see it every day in the headlines: “The Hidden Mental Health Crisis in America’s Schools.” “Everyone One Must Confront Our Mental Health Crisis.” “Are We Facing a Campus Mental Health Epidemic?”

Many of these publications are referring to a challenge many U.S. colleges and universities are facing today due to a mix of factors. An increase in anxiety and depression among students coupled with the fact that more students are seeking help for mental health than ever before is resulting in counseling centers on campuses nationwide struggling to keep up with demand and see students as quickly as they would like. At Active Minds, we hear students report increased wait times to see a counselor, sometimes for as long as four weeks.

But, as mental health advocates, do we inadvertently cause any harm by calling this a “crisis”? After all, by asking for help, aren’t students simply doing what we have been asking them to do?

National campus mental health leaders recently discussed this issue at the American College Health Association’s (ACHA) Mental Health Symposium. Several of the panelists challenged the term “crisis” and pointed out that the increased demand for mental health care on campuses is a direct result of the successes the field has had in destigmatizing mental illness and making it easier for help-seeking.

Additionally, students likely do not want to be labeled as contributing to a crisis for simply seeking help, as they have been encouraged to do.

On the other hand, there are benefits to calling the phenomenon a “crisis.” It draws attention to the issue, for example, and elevates the priority of the need.

As a better alternative, ACHA panelists suggested using the word “opportunity.”

We at Active Minds agree, and here’s why. Referring to the shift we’re seeing on campuses as an opportunity rather than a “crisis” or “epidemic” allows us to:

  • Maintain the gravity of the issue and continue to elevate it as a priority by framing it in terms of the economic and academic benefits of supporting students’ mental health and well-being, which are profound and far-reaching. Read more on this here and here.
  • Celebrate what’s going RIGHT in supporting students’ mental health, rather than only simply responding to tragedy, and share the effective models and lessons learned campuses are demonstrating in response to the shift in demand for services.
  • Apply a comprehensive, public health approach to campus mental health. Many campuses are seeing positive benefits from this approach by focusing on prevention and defining “wellness” broadly in a way that equally prioritizes mental health alongside physical health.
  • Applaud students for putting their well-being first and foremost and having the courage to seek help while ensuring that care is available when they do take that step. We should also include students in the planning and improvement of mental health services and programs as students know best what works for reaching other students.
  • Draw attention to the great successes we have achieved in increasing students’ help-seeking (Suicide IS preventable! Positive mental health is achievable!) and work together to build on that success for the new challenges that now await us.

Together, mental health advocates have had tremendous success elevating student mental health since the days when we first began. We have changed the conversation. It’s time for another conversation shift, and together, we can help others see the benefits, value, and opportunity in meeting students’ clear message for a more comprehensive, campus-wide approach to mental health and student well-being.

For examples of campus best practices and lessons learned around creating healthy campuses, driven by student inclusion in the process, read Active Minds’ Healthy Campus Award Key Findings Report.

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What the Holidays Can Be Like With a Mental Illness http://activemindsblog.org/what-christmas-can-be-like-with-a-mental-illness/ Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:06:44 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=7061

For many, the holidays season is the best, most joyous time of the year. For others, it’s the opposite.

Living with a mental illness is tough. And it’s even harder when you’re expected to be all happy and jolly, loving life with your friends and family.

It’s hard to explain how an atmosphere of happiness can have a negative impact on people with a mental illness.

So, we spoke to a number of people with such difficulties, and invited them to share how this makes them feel.

The artist Emma Rose illustrated these descriptions, to help us all to understand and be more empathetic toward people struggling with a mental illness – especially at this time of year.

 

 

 

 



Originally featured on AllClear, which commissioned this project as part of its commitment to raising awareness for mental illnesses and those who live with them.

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We Will Rise http://activemindsblog.org/we-will-rise/ Fri, 08 Dec 2017 14:29:56 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=7041 “Woah. This is fire weather.”

My partner says from our Santa Rosa, California stoop on October 8th, that fateful and tragic 75-degree Sunday night. The wind was ripping through the streets at 60 miles per hour. The enormous redwood trees around us were flailing wildly, as though they were made of rubber. We were kept awake by the sound of huge branches falling around us, one 10-footer piercing the porch roof of our neighbor’s house.

Not six hours later, we got a loud knock on our bedroom window.

“There’s a wildfire coming our way, Santa Rosa is being evacuated. We gotta get out of here.”

My sister, who lives next door, had received a knock on the door from her neighbor and she came over to share the warning. It was 3:30am and already, the street we live on was jam packed. Bumper to bumper traffic as people were fleeing south, away from the encroaching fire. Rumors and speculation were rampant. People were yelling from their cars that major landmarks throughout the city were up in flames. The air was full of toxic smoke. We quickly dressed and communed to decide what to do.

With almost no reliable information available yet, we packed our cars with the things that we felt were most critical, and our unwitting cat, and got into the traffic to head 20 miles west of the city to our parents’ home. We were prepared for the worst. As we slowly made our way out of the city, the hills on the horizon in the dark hours of the morning were glowing red with the fire that was moving nearly 30 miles per hour from the north, consuming everything in its path.

For the next five days, we were glued to tv and radio news, stunned, as we watched our city burn. We clung to our phones which delivered unrelenting emergency text messages about new parts of town that were being evacuated. Every day we heard about more beloved homes of family members and friends lost to the inferno. We moved cautiously and strategically on the roads, keeping the highways clear for emergency vehicles, and avoiding parts of the city that were on mandatory evacuation. We stayed in constant communication with our loved ones who live within the fires’ deadly reach, and shared space with them whenever we could.

The seven Northern California fires remained at 0% containment for nearly five days. They were unpredictable and uncontrollable. Even with thousands of firefighters from around the world working around the clock, we were entirely at the mercy of the weather patterns of the hours ahead.

In the end, thousands of homes were destroyed, hundreds of businesses, and hundreds of thousands of acres of land throughout Sonoma County, reaching into Napa. The fires burned for almost three weeks.

In the spirit of the season, I feel grateful that my home still stands. Grateful for a community that has banded together to support one another through this communal trauma. Grateful for story-sharing, and the sense of empathy that we all feel towards one another. And grateful that those who lost their homes within my family and friend circles have the resources to recover, albeit slow and painstaking.

At the same time, I am acutely aware that that’s not the case for thousands of people. Those who did not have renter’s insurance. Did not have documentation of their citizenship (or lost it in the fire). Are facing eviction to provide housing for family members of landowners who lost homes, and a virtually non-existent rental market to turn to. People who lost their jobs, their pets, their cars, their medications. Students and employees of the local colleges who lost their homes and their ability to study, pass classes or teach…

And those who lost their lives or their loved ones. Some perished in the fire, not able to escape, and some died by suicide, overwhelmed by the aftermath.

Now we’re adjusting to a new normal in Sonoma County. Recovery from here is a long journey, and resilience is the name of the game.

Here are some things that this experience has taught me:

  1. The trauma suffered by the community is real, and it’s deep. Depression and Posttraumatic Stress in the aftermath of a disaster comes in waves, and onset may be delayed. Keeping an eye on those around you who have experienced a community trauma beyond the incident is critical. It doesn’t go away quickly. Support will be needed for a long time to come.
  2. Know thy neighbors. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never taken the step to introduce myself to my neighbors, know who they are, and feel able to call upon them in an emergency. When the emergency hit, I wished deeply that I’d had the names and contact information of those who live immediately around me so that we could have kept an eye out for one another.
  3. It’s not “just stuff.” Yes, homes are material, and in some ways replaceable. But our memories, our livelihood, our sense of safety and independence are intricately entwined with our homes. Though tempting, it’s not helpful to try to console someone who’s lost everything with the “thank goodness it’s just stuff” line.

As the sign hanging on the burnt remains of the Trader Joe’s one mile from my house says,

“Like the phoenix, from the ashes, we will rise.” #sonomastrong

If you were/are impacted by the Northern and Southern California fires, or any of the other recent natural disasters, there is support.

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline

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You are Enough http://activemindsblog.org/you-are-enough/ Thu, 07 Dec 2017 15:50:37 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=7043 My time at Active Minds will be an experience I will truly treasure and remember. I can’t express how thankful I am for the individuals I was able to encounter, as well as the lessons I learned through hard-work and making mistakes. Yes, an internship is meant to provide you with experiences that shape your professionalism; however, I have gained much more than that interning here. I have gained self deserving love on who I am and what makes me, me. I have gained how important it is to speak up for those that are too afraid to speak for themselves. But most importantly, I have gained more insight on why I chose this internship from other offers. At the beginning, I asked for multiple signs on why I decided what I did. Well after months of being here, here it is:

Growing up I was afraid of many things, especially when I first moved to this country. As time progressed, things were just not right at the schools I attended. Nowadays, many members of society find it okay to judge others based on what makes them different, like their ethnicity, sexual orientation  , and even for not having the ability to speak English. That is solely what happened to me for and endless amount of years. I don’t necessarily like to talk about my experiences being bullied for years, but now that I am a rising senior I just have found all the patience and courage to care less and less. Especially through wonderful souls that have reminded me from time to time that I do matter.

Growing up I battled a handful of mental illnesses as a child, and I bottled every single one inside until I became numb of it all. It became to a point that all the numbness led to me visualize and crave dark actions. As I am better now, I remind myself of all those thought and tries, and apply it by reminding myself why I have to succeed. Yes, I must succeed for make those that cherish me proud; but, I must also succeed to tell that old me that I was meant to continue and follow a path of clarity. Nevertheless Active Minds, you have shown me, through this internship, how far I have come in life. I was born and raised in the country of El Salvador, so I never dreamed big, or thought I would be where I am today. And as today was my last day, I wanted to say thank you Active Minds. Thank you for showing me of how I have risen from nothing into something, for using my skills to further continue the organization’s mission in changing every conversation about mental health, and for letting me gain self deserving love. Let this not be my last note to you, but as an intern, this is me saying goodbye.

If you are struggling, let that person that loves you most listen. They will believe you and have plenty of courage for the both of you. Be as clear as possible, because they do care. You are loved.
You are adored. You are treasured. You are ENOUGH.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800- 273-8255

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#MeToo: Sharing Your Story on Your Own Terms http://activemindsblog.org/metoo-sharing-your-story-on-your-own-terms/ Tue, 05 Dec 2017 15:07:53 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=7037 Becky Fein is a member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau. Bring her to your campus or organization to share her story.

I was shocked at how long it took me to type the words “me too” into a status update on Facebook. For nearly a week I watched my social media feeds fill up with #metoo posts, and tried to pinpoint my hesitation to write those words myself. As someone who has been speaking publicly about my experience being raped for many years, I felt like I should post those powerful words. So, why wasn’t I?

For those who haven’t heard of it, the “me too” campaign went viral on social in the aftermath of the tidal wave of allegations against the powerful movie producer Harvey Weinstein, in early October. Hundreds of thousands of people posted the hashtag #metoo to indicate that they too had harmful sexual experiences in their past. Some simply stated, “me too”, and many included their own personal stories.

I can’t say I was surprised by the numbers. Indeed, I’m certain that it is a stark under-representation of the harmful sexual experiences endured in our culture.

The words “me too” from a close friend many years ago were for me, like for so many others, what finally relieved some shame that I felt around my sexual assault, and let me know that I wasn’t alone. Those mighty words changed everything, and forever shifted the trajectory of my healing journey. “Me too” are truly profound words to me.

The #metoo campaign created the space for solidarity, strength in numbers, and that potentially life-saving sense of community around an extremely vulnerable experience. Sexual assault is often shrouded in silence and shame. #metoo brought these stories out from the shadows in an unprecedented way.

It is without any doubt, a game-changer.

That said, I still wasn’t fully ready to type it out in my own status box right away. And I now understand why.

As a public figure whose focus is on sexual assault, I’ve learned that maintaining control of when and to whom I share my story is of the utmost importance to my own mental health maintenance. I’ve learned that I don’t owe anyone my story, and I have nothing to prove. I’ve chosen to share my story publicly in service to healing, both my own and others’, and I’ve learned to listen to my body when I feel a boundary being pushed.

In the first few days of #metoo, my body was telling me not to post yet, and I listened. I didn’t have to know exactly why yet. I now recognize that the feeling of “I should post” is why I hesitated. When it comes to my story of surviving rape, there’s no room for “shoulds” anymore.

I did eventually type #metoo, and proudly shared the status with my Facebook community. I did so when I felt ready, and personally empowered.

To those who have experienced sexual assault, abuse, and/or harassment, whether or not you chose to post #metoo, know that your story is yours to share with whomever you choose, when you are ready. You do not owe it to anyone to share. And when you do share, you are entitled to your own terms and circumstances. Your solidarity with the movement does not need to be made public to be real, unless that feels right to you.

You are believed, your story matters, and you are not alone.

Fun Fact: The “Me Too” campaign was created 20 years ago by activist Tarana Burke, long before the advent of hashtags. 

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When “Giving Up” Means Winning http://activemindsblog.org/when-giving-up-means-winning/ Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:20:58 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6981 I’m a fairly stubborn person. I always have been. I literally taught myself how to tie my shoelaces when I was little because I wouldn’t let anyone else help me. I mean, I was that hard-headed…

Recently, I withdrew from my capstone class (you know, that one specific class I need to graduate) a day before the deadline to drop a class without potentially getting a failing grade. The knowledge that I could withdraw had only occurred to me the previous day. All semester I had refused to let myself see withdrawing as an option, even in the face of zeros on unfinished homework assignments and looming deadlines. When my stress finally reached a breaking point, I had to admit that I had options, which meant that I also had a decision to make. Persevere, fail, or surrender.

I could pull some tough all-nighters and get my work done…

I could sleep instead of getting my work done and let my grades suffer…

Or I could withdraw, enroll in next semester’s capstone class, and spend more time working on my mental health.

I feel good about having chosen the last option, but it was hard for me to do. This option meant surrendering.

Giving up.

Giving in.

Admitting defeat.

A.k.a. my least favorite thing to do.

In the 24 hours that I spent mulling over this decision, I remembered a speech I had seen on Youtube titled “How to Surrender, and Win”. The presenter talked about how surrendering to the fact that he was an addict meant finally allowing himself the motivation to get sober and regain his life – his ultimate win. This made me remember times in the past when “giving up” was the best option for me. The year I took off between high school and college… Quitting a job that I hated even though I had no backup plan… Finally getting a therapist…

Letting go… giving in… admitting defeat… waving your white flag.

This option can present itself in a lot of scenarios. Leaving a relationship that’s no longer working, dropping out or taking time off from school, leaving a job that stresses you out too much, leaving a friend group that isn’t supportive, etc.

These are all losses, in a way. However, they may all be wins, too. I like to think of these situations like trading a nickel for a quarter [except a lot more complicated, of course]. When we surrender, we may feel like we’re taking a risk, especially with big decisions like quitting a job or breaking up with someone. You can’t be certain that it will make you happier. But when I say “surrendering”, I don’t mean giving up and accepting the idea that we’re flawed and there’s nothing we can do about it, nor do I mean letting ourselves become complacent about things that are difficult.

Surrendering means letting go – letting go of the negatives because there are positives that we can take hold of instead.

And I know it’s not easy. Many times, it’s hard to even see when not surrendering in a particular situation is like driving around in circles thinking we’re getting somewhere. We like to feel like we’re doing something productive even when we know we’re stuck.

We’re human and we have limits, and it’s okay to accept them. And if surrendering to your limitations sounds like the last thing you want to do, I get it.

Imagine trying to mow a football field with a single pair of scissors. Sure, it’s possible, but it’s also possible to put down the scissors and spend some energy finding a lawn mower so that you can be better equipped to cut the grass. In other words, if you surrender to your current limitations, you open yourself up to more appropriate and more satisfying solutions (i.e. winning).  

I also realize that it’s not just the decision to surrender that is difficult. Odds are your win won’t come immediately. It may take time and tremendous effort.

I spent my whole semester thinking “I just need to work harder. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to complete all of my schoolwork.” For my stubborn self, it took reaching my breaking point to realize that surrendering to my current inability to succeed academically meant allowing myself the time and energy to improve my mental health and then return to the class equipped to succeed in the long term. My surrender is not a failure. Actually, I think it’s self-care.

With that said, I have a question for you: Is there anything that you could let go of today, in order to gain what you really need?

It could be anything – a negative coping mechanism… a habit of taking on too much responsibility… a grudge towards someone who hurt you in the past… finally seeking professional help for a mental health challenge.

So if there’s something in your life that isn’t working the way you need it to, it may help to ask yourself…

What are my personal [and very human] limitations?

What feeling or circumstance would I be surrendering to?

What do I stand to gain?

Will surrendering help me reach my ultimate win?

Russell is a member of the Active Minds Student Advisory Committee and a chapter leader at University of Maine.

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Mental Health is Just as Important as Physical Health http://activemindsblog.org/mental-health-is-just-as-important-as-physical-health/ Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:00:13 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6929 Recommendations from the healthiest campuses in the country.

Over the past three years, Active Minds students around the country have successfully advocated for mental health to be given equal priority as physical health by impacting leave of absence policies and insurance plans, adding mental health services to course syllabi and other initiatives.

Additionally, through the Healthy Campus Award, Active Minds champions schools that not only serve students’ physical health but give equal priority and investment to mental health. We look forward to learning more about campus successes through the 2018 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award (the Call for Applications is open now!).

In the meantime, we asked previous winners for their recommendations on how to build healthy campuses that equally prioritize mental health. The schools have spent years investing time, energy, resources, creativity and leadership in creating a culture of health on campus. They know it’s essential for student success and their schools’ mission. Read on for a checklist you can use to assess you own campus based on their best advice:

 

  • Does your campus prioritize a collective, strategic approach?

 

Building a healthy campus involves students, faculty, staff, and administrators across multiple departments and disciplines. At University of Wisconsin-Madison, the campus wellness council includes departments and units throughout the university. Together, they ensured that the campus’s master plan preserved or developed spaces and locations on campus to better support student wellness.

 

  • Does your campus define health broadly?

 

Physical health and mental health are interconnected and healthy campuses use diverse strategies to address multiple factors that impact health. CSU Long Beach, for example, offers a program consisting of yoga, meditation, and discussions for survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence. Additionally, their LIFE Project is a rare example of a comprehensive resource for students with autism. The university also allows emotional support animals to live in residence halls with students who need them and offers a financial health course for students least likely to have had access to that information growing up.

 

  • Has your campus made policy, environmental, and systems changes to support student health?

 

Many campuses, such as Sacramento State, are having success integrating health education into freshmen courses while UW-Madison are integrating health and well-being into classrooms by redesigning first-year lecture courses. CSU Long Beach also developed a Student Emergency Intervention Program involving multiple departments to help students who are hungry or homeless receive meals, housing, and emergency funds and counseling so that they can continue their education.

 

  • Does your campus ensure that all students have equal opportunities for health?

 

For example, research shows that transgender students are at significant risk for suicidal thoughts. The School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) listened when transgender students spoke up for their needs. Their award-winning training curriculum on transgender student health is now used by many college counseling and health professionals. Similarly, the UW-Madison has fully implemented guidelines for Trans-Inclusive College Health Programs.

 

  • Does your campus measure results and share progress?

 

SAIC’s success in securing funding to support its healthy campus efforts is due to consistently measuring and reporting results. Their participation in national studies, such as the Healthy Minds Study, has allowed them to see positive trends in the number of students seeking mental health help, exercising, and avoiding binge drinking and cigarette use.

 

  • Does your campus provide quality, responsive, accessible health services?

 

One way to increase access to health services is through integrated and centralized campus services. Lawrence University increased student use of wellness services by 300 percent when they integrated their counseling, health and recreation services into a new wellness center located centrally on campus.


The Call for Applications for the 2018 Healthy Campus Award is now open. To read other recommendations and apply for the award, visit www.activeminds.org/award.

If you are a student and you would like to be more active in your school’s healthy campus efforts, check out Active Minds’ Transform Your Campus resources for successfully engaging in student-led campus change.

The Active Minds Healthy Campus Award is made possible through the generous support of The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation.

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5 Holiday Gift Ideas That Say “I Care” http://activemindsblog.org/5-holiday-gift-ideas-that-say-i-care/ Wed, 15 Nov 2017 17:47:13 +0000 http://activemindsblog.org/?p=6984 Shopping for stocking stuffers or holiday gifts that show you care? We’ve got you covered!

Here’s a list of five easy gift ideas — perfect for friends, family, students, or anyone who oughta know they’re awesome, this holiday and always.

Many of the items are deeply discounted, so check them out before they’re gone! All purchases support Active Minds’ mental health awareness and suicide prevention activities for students.

 

1.  “The World Needs You Here” t-shirt

Share the powerful message that “The World Needs You Here” through this exclusive t-shirt. Available in gray in sizes XS, S, L, XL, XXL. Buy now »

 

2.  “Laugh More” buttons

Who doesn’t need a Laugh More button?! Put it on your backpack, pin one to your coat, give one to everyone in class or at work. Sold in packs of 50. Buy now »

 

3.  Active Minds sweatshirt hoodie

Active Minds wants everyone to feel comfortable in their own skin, so of course our sweatshirt hoodie is cozy and warm! Dark gray in sizes S, L, XL, XXL, XXXL. Buy now »

 

4.  “The World Needs You Here” bracelet

Wear it. Share it. Raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention with this bracelet and its message of hope. Football players are also sporting the bracelet as part of our partnership with the NFL Players Association. Available in regular and football player size. $5. Buy now »

 

5.  “PostSecret” hardcover book

Shaped like an oversized postcard, this handsome book is the fifth in Frank Warren’s bestselling PostSecret series. PostSecret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God features artistically created postcards from around the world. Whether shocking, soulful, or funny, each is a reminder of our hidden connections. 275 pages. Includes special signed bookplate. Buy now »

 


Support us when you shop this holiday season
Choose Active Minds and Amazon will make a donation each time you place an order.

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