The White Balloon Could be Coming to Your Campus

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white balloonLooking for a creative way to start a conversation about mental health and engage a large population in your community or on your campus? Active Minds at Rochester Institute of Technology may have found one of the most creative ways yet to engage their campus, get the word out about their chapter, and educate their peers at the same time: they brought The White Balloon to their campus.

The goal of this program was to inform peers about the proportion of college students who live with mental illness in the United States. They accomplished this goal in three ways: balloons, mystery, and social media.

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Suicide Prevention Month: Reasons to Stay

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This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.

IMG_1297I am alive.

Some days, this surprises me. I think of all that has happened in the 20.5 years of my life and am shocked to find myself still standing, still breathing, heart still beating. If you asked me a couple years ago if I would live to see 21, I would have laughed in your face. I would have said that my illnesses would probably take me before I even reached 18.

My illnesses are not physical; they are mental. That does not mean that they are any less serious, life-threatening, or difficult. It means that everyday I was fighting a battle against myself. I was at war with my own being and that was difficult on its own.

At age 17, after spending three years trying to balance my eating disorder, depression, borderline personality, anxiety, and self injury alongside of high school and being a “normal” teenager, I decided it was time to give up. I was tired of trying medication after medication. I was tired of going through so many different therapists. I was tired of fighting. I thought that it was never going to get better and that treatment was failing me. I felt hopeless. Continue Reading

Emerging Scholars Fellowship: 1 Video and 5 Main Findings

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The mental health of the Black undergraduate community is vitally important. After talking with several student-led campus organizations, myself and a team of passionate undergraduate students created this video to encourage dialogue about mental health challenges, stigma, and resources both on campus and nationally.

In addition to sharing this video, I’m excited to share with you some of the main findings of my Emerging Scholars Fellowship research!

#1. Racial discrimination is still an important risk factor related to mental health symptoms of anxiety and depression for Black college students. Interestingly, different aspects of the experience of racial discrimination were related to different mental health symptoms.

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Mental Health News Round Up: June 5

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Anxious Students Strain College Mental Health Centers

A new report from Penn State reveals that anxiety is biggest concern for students seeking help at campus counseling centers. Counseling centers work to alleviate the pressures of the influx of students and provide innovative ways to encourage de-stressing.

Did John Nash’s schizophrenia boost his ‘beautiful mind’?

John Nash, the mathematician who rose to fame with the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” recently passed away with his wife in a car accident.  As people begin to investigate his legacy, a debate about mental health disorders and creativity emerges. 

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Chapter of the Month: Occidental College

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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.

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Mental Health News Round-Up: May 22

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Colleges Relieve Pressure Post Suicides

In a Huffington Post Live interview, Active Minds at MIT, Active Minds national office, and the Jed Foundation discussed the multi-faceted pressures college students face, administrative policies about leaves, and help seeking behaviors.  The video is well worth a watch for all StigmaFighters working to change the conversation about mental health.

A Commencement Speech For The Already Graduated: Be Courageous

In honor of commencement speeches, one Forbes author has advice for graduates and non-graduates alike: be courageous because anxiety is inevitable. Finding healthy ways to cope with anxiety should be our goal.

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Mental Health News Round Up: April 24

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The New Yorker Festival 2012 - In Conversation - Lena Dunham Talks With Emily NussbaumLena Dunham Tackles The Stigma Of Mental Health With A ‘Workout Selfie’

In an Instagram photo of herself, Lena Dunham talks about her own history with obsessive compulsive disorder to break down the stigma surrounding mental health. She also advocates for those experiencing mental health disorders to try exercise.

Mental Health, Drug Treatment Will Be “A Big Part” Of Clinton’s Campaign

After hearing about mental health from varying constituent groups, Hillary Clinton has promised to make mental health and substance abuse issue a large part of her campaign. In her own words, “I think a lot of people are thinking, Well, that’s somebody else’s problem. That’s not my problem. And indeed, it is all of our problem.”

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Emerging Scholars Fellowship: Stigmas, Barriers and The Importance of Having the Conversation

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The most enlightening and enriching experiences of my project so far have arisen from opportunities to have conversations with campus student groups about mental health in the Black undergraduate student community.

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In these sessions I first asked students to help me brainstorm what barriers they saw to talking about mental health and seeking mental health support in the Black undergraduate community. Some of the most common barriers students mentioned were:

  • Financing campus mental health services – uncertainty about payments, only a certain number of sessions for free, what happens after graduation
  • Feeling like one needs to be perfect
  • Not feeling like there’s enough time in the day
  • Not seeing people of color seeking mental health support or working at places that provide mental health support
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Here are photos of UNC’s Active Minds Chapter in front of their brainstorming boards.

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Mental Health News Round-Up: April 17

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downloadWorking Through Depression: Many Stay On The Job, Despite Mental Illness

Two people talk about depression and the considerations to take with disclosure at the work place. Another gem from this interview “But it’s important to remember that [external events affecting mood is] not how depression happens for everyone.”

How a Transgender Teen’s Cries for Help on Reddit and Tumblr Powered a Movement Against ‘Conversion Therapy’

Having experienced and decried conversion therapy, Leelah Alcorn begged for the world to “fix society” in her last post on tumblr.  With traction from mounting from an online petition bearing Alcorn’s name, the White House supports the efforts to ban conversion therapy at the state level.

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Stress Less Week: Download These Mental Health Apps Today

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mental-health-apps-SFWADDealing with a specific mental health issue? Anxious at work? Just feeling more down than usual? There’s an app for that!

Thanks to Active Minds at the University of Rochester for putting together this extensive list of mental health-related mobile apps. Refer back to this list whenever life gets tough!

Reminder: These apps are not substitutes for clinical assistance. If you’re feeling suicidal or are experiencing a mental health emergency, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK. 

Anxiety and Stress

  • Beat Panic
  • Beat Social Phobia (iTunes/Android)
  • BellyBio Interactive Breathing
  • BioZen
  • iStress
  • Worry Box- Anxiety Self Help
  • Stop Panic & Anxiety Self Help
  • SAM – Self Help for Anxiety Management
  • Panic Aid

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