Four students in the Global Health Sophomore Scholar in Residence (SSIR) program started their capstone project researching the question of mental health and how it applies to University of Richmond's campus, but they didn’t stop with their final presentation.
Instead, they found an answer to their question, sparking the reestablishment of the Active Minds UR chapter.
Active Minds is a national organization designed for students to raise mental health awareness, provide education and support for students and to de-stigmatize mental health on campus.
According to the organization's website, Active Minds’ mission is to provide opportunities for students to communicate with each other about mental health, a topic that many students don’t approach on their own.
“This group is focused on an issue that has the potential to affect everybody here,” a sophomore in the SSIR group, Leah Cabo, said. “We all go to an academically rigorous school, we all are away from home—it presents a lot of pressures on everybody equally.”
The four students, sophomores Annika Sampedro, Leah Cabo, Hannah Dunn and Adriana Grimes, brought Active Minds UR back as an official chapter on campus and will spearhead its growth in the fall. The reason for end of the previous Active Minds chapter in 2014 is unknown, but Grimes said it could have been because most of the leadership team was made up of seniors.
“Everyone knows that CAPS is there, but that doesn’t change being able to interact with other students about it,” Grimes said. “This is one of the biggest problems I think, because mental health can be very isolating.”
The club will hold three different types of member meetings in the fall. There will be member meetings that cover general tasks such as planning events, wellness meetings that will have de-stressing activities like yoga, and social meetings that will encourage students to go out to a movie or go to the dining hall together, helping reduce student isolation.
“I think the best part of this is that it’s student-directed, student-initiated and student-organized,” Rick Mayes, the Global Health SSIR professor and the faculty adviser for Active Minds UR, said.
Mayes has been trained in mental health and it is a topic he has always had a strong interest in. Mayes said the important part about this club was that it could promote prevention of mental health issues by talking about them more.
“When people have mental impairments they don’t talk about it usually,” Mayes said. “It’s this silent suffering.”
One of the events Active Minds has planned is called “Speak Your Mind,” which will be held in the spring. All students will be invited to publicly share their ideas and experiences surrounding mental health.
“We think this is one of the best ways to reach the most people and to be kind of cathartic for the people who wish to share,” Grimes said. “You can let people know what you’re dealing with, and someone else might be dealing with a very similar thing.”
One of the goals for the chapter that the leaders have is to network with the other health resources on campus so they can all work together. The students have already spoken with CAPS, and they plan to meet with the UR Wellness Bandits, the Student Health Center and the Peer Wellness Counselors.
When the chapter officially starts in the fall, Active Minds UR hopes to gain a lot of new members through tabling, word of mouth and connecting with other organizations.
“It would be great if this group blossomed and changed the whole student view on mental health, and maybe even at the margin, change the student culture,” Mayes said.
Contact contributor Stephanie Hagan at firstname.lastname@example.org