Four University of Richmond juniors have come together to form the UR chapter of Active Mind to increase health-seeking behavior on campus.
The club was born of a Capstone Project for “Global Health, Medical Humanities and Human Rights,” a course offered last year through UR’s Sophomore Scholars In Residence program. Leah Cabo, Hannah Dunn, Adriana Grimes and Annika Sampedro, members of the SSIR, chose to create a club proposal for Active Minds as their final project.
Established in 2003, Active Minds is a national nonprofit organization that aims to increase the conversation surrounding mental health. There are 434 active university chapters across the United States, Africa, Australia, Canada, Cyprus and Ecuador. In the state of Virginia alone there are 15 chapters, including ones at William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
“Mental health affects everyone, including people we may know personally, and it is difficult to know who is struggling and who is in need of help,” club founder Hannah Dunn said. Dunn and her other co-founders aim to destigmatize mental health issues, and increase the help-seeking behavior on campus. This way, UR students will receive the aid they need in order to thrive on campus.
The UR Active Minds chapter held its first meeting on Oct. 5, 2017, where students of all grades were in attendance. Christopher Clark, senior, attended the first meeting because, as president of UR Emergency Medical Services, he said it is “important from a medical and public health standpoint to address [mental health] issues before [problems] arise.”
Throughout this academic year, the UR Active Minds chapter plans on having three types of meetings: general meetings focusing on club planning, social meetings that will focus on discussing mental health and wellness meetings that will explore specific aspects of mental health.
Club members plan to host on-campus events throughout the year to further remove the stigma surrounding mental health. In the spring, the club founders hope to have a Mental Health Week to widen the reach of conversations on campus. They also plan to host a Mental Health Student Speak Out, which would be modeled after UR's successful Take Back the Night event.
The UR Active Minds chapter also looks forward to partnering with other UR clubs and organizations throughout the upcoming school year. Thus far, Active Minds has already teamed up with the Westhampton College Government Association and looks forward to working with the UR Wellness Education Bandits, among other organizations.
“The core message of our group is that mental health issues affect pretty much everyone," Dunn said. "It’s the people around us and the people we know. Whether we are aware of people’s individual struggles or not, we recognize the importance of facilitating a really welcoming and stigma free environment on campus.”
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