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.