I’m pleased to announce that a new student-led organization, Active Minds, was recently created here at Simpson College. The organization is a local offshoot from the national nonprofit organization of the same name.
According to its website, Active Minds, “empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. We are changing the culture on campuses and in the community by providing information, leadership opportunities and advocacy training to the next generation.”
Junior Marisa Konz, founder and president of Active Minds at Simpson, said her decision to start the organization came as a result of her work as a class senator on the Student Government Association. She had been working alongside counseling services and the Sexual Assault Response Advocates to put together a mental health educational series, but felt like something more was needed.
“I could not get everything I wanted accomplished in student government,” said Konz. “Ellie, head of counseling services, had mentioned Active Minds to me when we were working together. I started looking more into it, and just knew this type of organization is exactly what Simpson College needed.”
According to the Active Minds constitution, the goal of the organization, “is for students to become self-advocates, who are responsible, resilient, self-aware and engaged in their learning experience at Simpson College.”
It will do this both by helping students advocate for each others’ mental health (which includes pointing them to counseling services when they need help) and reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues and treatment.
“I know that mental health is something quite a few people are passionate about, and thought creating a group with like-minded people would educate and advocate for Simpson College’s mental health,” said Konz.
I attended Active Minds’ first meeting last night, where Konz explained the purpose of the organization and how Active Minds has local chapters at several college campuses across the county.
We also discussed possible events the organization might put on at Simpson as well as specific types of mental health issues that are common on campus. Future events Active Minds might hold include inviting guest speakers to campus, partnering with counseling services to hold informational forums and putting on relaxation events for students.
Some specific mental health problems we thought the organization could focus on include depression, anxiety (included separation anxiety for out-of-state students) and post-traumatic stress disorder. While not all students suffer from mental illness, most every student experiences the stress that college life brings; Active Minds would also seek to help these students find ways to manage their stress in healthy ways.
Active Minds’ next meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1 in the Fleming Room, located next to Millie’s in the Kent center. I encourage everyone interested in attending and becoming involved with this organization.