The Collegian
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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Student group looks to raise awareness of mental health

Active Minds, a national organization with chapters at hundreds of schools, was one of many featured this week at the Student Organization Fair.

"We are a group where people can talk about their mental illnesses or the illnesses of others," said the group's president, Jennifer Johnson, a psychology major at the University of Richmond.

She quickly said that a member need not be personally connected with those issues.

"We are looking for a diverse membership to bring different perspective to the meetings ....we're always looking to expand our ally base," Johnson said.

Active Minds focuses less on curb appeal and more on intimate encounters. Because of this, the group tends to have a smaller population of active members, but the events they plan draw in a larger crowd.

Coffee hours are the most common event. These are informal gatherings where students are encouraged to come and talk about their mental illnesses and the mental illness of loved ones in a social setting.

Tabling in in the Tayler Haynes Commons is also done fairly routinely. The first tabling event of the year will be National Day without Stigma (NDWS) on October 3. Members of Active Minds will be there to educate and raise awareness of mental health issues while also helping individuals who are seeking help.

Stress-out days are during finals. All students are invited to unwind in a comforting atmosphere with therapy dogs, stress balls and food.

Student Speak Out is held every spring and is said to be an especially moving event because "people open up and feel comfortable enough to share their stories with a crowd," Johnson said.

The group is also looking into an exercise buddy system that will pair members of the group into workout partners. Johnson explained that it will be less about the physical activity and more about spending time with someone who understands where the other is coming from.

Active Minds strives to be a positive environment that is always welcoming new people, whether it's to a meeting or an event. The meetings are tentatively scheduled for Mondays at 6:00 p.m. in room 346 of the Tyler Hanes Commons.

Contact reporter Caroline Merritt at caroline.merritt@richmond.edu

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