From Oct. 24-28, the newly started Northwestern Active Minds Chapter kicked things off with a spirit week. This club was organized and founded by social work seniors with the goal to “get campus talking about mental health and end the stigma by normalizing mental health and having conversations about mental health.”
In the fall of their senior year, all social work majors must plan and carry out advocacy projects. One group of seniors chose mental health as the focus of their advocacy project. Elizabeth Olsen, Beth Roerig, Molly Ryan and Jonah Upton saw a need for increased awareness and support of mental health on NW’s campus. “So many students struggle with this but are afraid to speak up and feel alone. We wanted to provide a space where students can feel supported and know they are not alone” Olsen said.
To contribute to this need, they decided to start a local chapter of Active Minds. Active Minds is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to supporting mental health awareness and education among young adults. The organization has a national network of student-led chapters at over 600 campuses. “We were inspired to start an Active Minds chapter here at NW because of growing need for mental health support among our peers” Roerig said. After starting an official NW Active Minds chapter, the group made their presence known on campus by hosting a spirit week.
Throughout Active Minds Spirit Week, the club hosted events, a fundraiser and a panel to include as many individuals as possible. During the very first event, mental health therapist Osiris Ordaz from Promise Medical Health Center in Sioux Center was welcomed onto campus. Osiris expressed her own personal passion for advocating for mental health. This was followed by pointers on how to help those you know who are struggling and how to best address the subject of mental health. Osiris ended the session by encouraging participants to write loving notes to those they have noticed struggling around them.
The club also hosted a mental health panel on Thursday night in Ramaker basement for a group of students to discuss their personal journeys with mental health. This included many different topics, such as medication, therapy, how mental illness is treated on campus and more. Through this, students were able to build an environment where they could openly discuss problems regarding their own mental health and challenge stigmas surrounding mental health.
For a fundraiser contributing to Active Minds, they sold stickers that said ‘You matter’ alongside a smiling face. Students were able to purchase these stickers for only a dollar to send to friends or hand out themselves. Not only do the stickers serve as a beautiful reminder, but they helped the Active Minds club to raise funds for future events.