Did you know that one out of four college students suffers from a mental health disorder? Mental health is a topic not often discussed, especially in the context of college campuses. But one organization in particular is trying to change that. Active Minds, a national organization with a chapter at the University of North Alabama, is trying to shed light on mental health and help provide support for college students.
Active Minds’ goal is to raise awareness through campus-wide events and programs and to create a comfortable environment, both on- and off-campus, for conversation about mental health.
The president of UNA Active Minds, Mazie Snider, is a sophomore majoring in psychology with a minor in women’s studies. Snider said Active Minds is passionate about communicating the message that college students are not alone and do not have to suffer in silence.
The Beginning of Active Minds
The process to establish UNA Active Minds began in the fall of 2015, but it wasn’t until January 2016 that Active Minds was officially recognized as a Registered Student Organization. Snider explained that the process was lengthy.
“There was a lot of paperwork to be completed with the university and the national organization so it took some time,” she said. “This was all done by the first president Chloe Allen in her junior year here at UNA. Between Chloe and the original adviser, Lynne Martin, Active Minds got off to a great start.”
Currently, Active Minds has fifteen active members. Students interested in joining can become a part of the Active Minds OrgSync page, attend meetings, or contact Mazie ([email protected]).
Currently, UNA Active Minds meets every second and fourth Monday at 5 p.m. in the lower level Stone Lodge on campus. Students can stay connected to UNA Active Minds and learn about meeting times and events through social media pages on Facebook (University of North Alabama Active Minds) and Instagram (una_activeminds). Any UNA student, no matter their major, can join Active Minds.
“Active Minds often administers or volunteers at tabling events catered towards mental health awareness and stigma fighting purposes,” Snider said. “We have tables and events dedicated to suicide prevention, stigma fighting, sexual- and racial-fueled harassment, bullying and more.”
Some events Active Minds is a part of include: Unity Day, Stomp Out Stigma, Active Minds Active Hearts, NEDA Week and Stress Less Week. Additionally, Active Minds has collaborated with the Women’s Center and Student Counseling Services for some of these events as well, such as National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week and Stress Less Week.
Mazie’s favorite event is Active Minds Active Hearts. The first president of Active Minds established this event for Valentine’s Day in order to remind students that they are not alone.
“Valentine’s Day can be hard for a lot of students, even if they have a partner, which is why we hand out candy and compliments every February 14,” she said. “We also provide a place for our students to make a Valentine’s card for their loved ones, friends, and family. Active Minds Active Hearts was actually the first Active Minds event I attended. This event is really where I began to feel connected with other mental health advocates and discovered that Active Minds was the group for me.”
Active Minds provides a space for students to enjoy community on campus that they might not otherwise have.
Recently, Active Minds hosted Stress Less Week on April 23 in order to reduce stress among UNA students, promote self-care and spread positivity across campus. The event even featured a self-care talk by psychology professor Larry Bates, free Stress Less giveaways, and a Stress Less coloring and board game night.
Active Minds connects and encourages students to attend Student Counseling Services (SCS) in order for them to get the help they need. One important fact that Active Minds seeks to inform students about is that the counseling services at the SCS are included in tuition and, thus, free for all UNA students.
“Overall, we want our students to know that Active Minds is here to change the conversation about mental health and fight the stigma that still surrounds it,” Snider said.
With the work of organizations like Active Minds, we can remove the stigma that surrounds mental health.
Help is here!
Active Minds is working to clear stigmas and promote awareness surrounding mental health, and it’s a good thing they are. Three out of four people with mental health issues exhibited signs before they were 24. If you’re struggling with hopelessness, self-medication, out-of-control feelings or other potential signs, there are several resources available at your fingertips:
- Call 1-800-273-TALK, the National Suicide Prevention Line
- Text “START” to 741-741, the Crisis Text Line
- Call 1-800-931-2237, the National Eating Disorder Association
- Text “LOVEIS” to 22522, or call 1-866-331-9474 to talk with a peer advocate at Love is Respect about abusive partners
- Download Beacon 2.0 on your smartphone to learn about other resources filtered by mental health professionals