Yeah, college makes students stressed, all the academics, athletics, financial hardships, post-graduation uncertainty… The list of stressful factors goes on and on. But did you know that this puts college students at a higher risk for developing mental health disorders? This concerned Sami Molzan and Jennifer Griffith to the point that they recently started an Active Minds chapter here at Northeastern. Active Minds, Inc. is a national organization with a mission to change the conversation about mental health. I got the chance to talk with NU students Molzan (active secretary) and Griffith (president) about how they plan to uphold this mission here on campus.
So, what exactly is Active Minds (AM)?
Sami: Well, AM is an organization dedicated to increasing the conversation about mental health and decreasing the stigmas that are often associated with mental health diseases. AM is not a peer counseling service, but it is a forum for students to speak freely about mental health issues in general and increase the conversation around campus.
Jenn: Active Minds at NU is a student effort to educate others and transform the current judgments about mental illness to make students feel safe and comfortable with accessing help.
As the president of Active Minds, Jenn, what inspired you to start this club at NU?
Jenn: I had come to notice how hesitant people were to discuss mental health on campus, while at the same time noticing how many students on our campus were affected with it. Avoiding the discussion about mental health decreases the likelihood that students reach out for help. After much research, Active Minds seemed like the perfect solution, providing students with an outlet to discuss mental health without being stigmatized.
Seeing that AM is a new club on campus, are there any positions that need to be filled? How can one become more involved with AM?
Sami: We are going to be a huge part of Mental Health Week in the fall, and we are looking for a subcommittee to help with organizing events and activities. We would love for other students to become involved with these committees.
Jen: Right now we are focusing on recruiting members. Students can get involved by following us on Twitter (@ActiveMindsatNU), emailing us at activemindsatNU@gmail.com, or by joining us on OrgSync. Our first meeting is coming up on Wednesday, March 13th in 220 Behrakis at 7pm and we encourage students to come and learn more about us! We hope to start planning events soon and developing more positions within the club for students to take advantage of.
You’ve got me interested. When is the next awesome event AM has in store?
Sami: Besides Mental Health Awareness Week, our first event will be with PostSecretU, as in the PostSecret website founded by Frank Warren. At the event students will get a chance to write down all their own secrets and then we will post them on windows around campus.
Jen: Look for us around campus during finals week and on National Stress Out Day! We’ll be tabling throughout campus and passing out materials for students to help handle finals stress!
Sounds great. I want to end this interview by asking how exactly does AM plan to enrich student life here on campus? And how is this organization unique?
Sami: We want to eradicate all stigmas attached to mental health. For example, even normal mental health activities, such as seeing a counselor at UHCS, is sometimes looked down upon. We are going to work closely with UHCS in order to inform students of the various options they have at NU.
Jenn: AM is unique in that there really isn’t another organization on campus focusing on overall mental health awareness and the wide array of mental health disorders. And anyone can join AM, because everyone has mental health!