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Student Mental Health Leaders at FSU

Through housing and educating one of the most at-risk populations for mental health complications, Florida State University (FSU) is constantly making strides to develop a comprehensive and easily accessible mental health scene. While this is often spearheaded by organizations and facilities on campus such as the University Counseling Center and clubs like NAMI FSU or RENEW, certain individuals like Lindsay Bolton spend their four years working towards the same goals of mental health advocacy. She is the new president of NAMI FSU, and a leading member of Psi Chi, the honors program, Honors in the Major and more. In addition to only campus improvements, Lindsay has immersed herself in just about every learning opportunity available for a psychology major, making her a model student and community contributor for those to follow.

Her Campus (HC): How has the virtual format of NAMI meetings affected the space you’ve helped create within the club, either positively or negatively or both?

Lindsay Bolton (LB): Moving NAMI online was definitely a shock. I think it’s safe to say that none of us expected that this would become our reality for over a year! There were things we couldn’t do: charity walks/runs, crafting or baking socials, in-person tabling and more. However, moving online did lend itself to new opportunities: collaborations that couldn’t have happened in person, for example. Working with the NAMI team also made the transition fairly seamless. When we put all our minds together, it was pretty straightforward to come up with activities and presentations that lend themselves to the online format. Additionally, I now feel more comfortable with the online format and feel like online NAMI events, long-distance speakers, for example, would be very doable and exciting now! Nevertheless, I’m so excited to be back in person next year, we’re going to have some super fun and educational meetings—I recommend everyone check us out—especially with Maddie planning our events!

HC: What inspired you to become a larger, more integral part of the NAMI FSU community as secretary, and what made you stay and eventually become president?

LB: I’ve never talked about this before, but I had my eyes on NAMI since I was in high school! I remember messaging a former president to ask if I could be on the E-Board my freshman year (which isn’t allowed for a good reason, I see now). I started going to NAMI as a general member my first semester freshman year and I instantly fell in love. I appreciated that it was a group that stood for advocacy and education about mental health. Before I got to college, I was told never to talk about my diagnosed mental illnesses. So being in a group that accepted and supported me through them was fantastic. I felt as though NAMI could make a big change in the culture of mental health at FSU, which made me even more motivated to become an Exec member! I was secretary my sophomore and junior year. I think secretary was great training as I learned what it took to run a club without being extremely stressed. I now feel so prepared and excited to be the president in the upcoming year!

HC: What is one goal you hope to achieve or see achieved in terms of mental health advocacy on campus?

LB: Broadly, I’d love to see mental health awareness being a bigger part of FSU’s culture. Obviously, being a psychology major I’m always immersed in conversations about, well, psychology. However, I know that those discussions are not typically happening more broadly. Due to this, one goal I have with NAMI is to expand it to more people! We’re a majority psych major club, which makes sense! However, I think NAMI can be a great and impactful experience for everyone. The first way I’d like to do this next year is by leaving sweet and supportive notes around campus that also have NAMI’s meeting time and room. The members could hand out flowers or candies also with NAMI’s information.

HC: What has been your experience as a member of Psi Chi, and what would you want those interested in the organization to know before joining?

LB: Psi Chi is a great experience that opens the door to lots of scholarship and funding opportunities for their members, as long as they look for them! If you’re on the fence about joining, I’d suggest signing up as a mentee your freshman year. This is free and allows you access to an upper-level psychology student who can help guide you through your college journey. I served as a mentor this year, and it was really rewarding! Psi Chi also has really fun meetings and socials that I definitely recommend.

Woman sitting on bed with laptop and books
Photo by Windows from Unsplash

HC: What are your current and past personal goals as a psychology major?

LB: When I first started FSU, I gave myself the goal of graduating with dual honors (honors program and honors in the major) and a 4.0 GPA. I had a lot of self-doubts, so I really didn’t think I’d be able to do it. But as of now, it looks like I will! It’s not necessary to achieve these things; you can be successful without them. However, setting this goal and working to achieve it had made me proud of myself! It was a lot of hard work, and it’s not over yet, but it was worth it!

HC: What lab do you participate in and in what way? What caused you to gain interest in lab work as an undergraduate?

LB: I work in the Attractions and Close Relationships Lab which is led by Dr. Meltzer. When I interviewed her grad students, I remember thinking that I have never met kinder people in my entire life. This still holds true. I look up to Dr. Meltzer and the grad students in the lab so much, and I am so proud of them for all the incredible things they’re accomplishing! This year, I worked as the project manager on a really interesting speed dating study, which was incredibly rewarding. I helped run the study from the ground up, which was such a special experience. I recommend that all students attempt to work in a lab in any capacity throughout their years at FSU! In the ACR lab, I am a DIS (Directed Individual Study), which means I can get class credit for my work! In my freshman year, I worked with Dr. Cho through the UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program) where we studied the Lake Wobegon effect. This was also very rewarding and something to look into if you’re an incoming freshman or sophomore!

HC: What is one piece of advice you have for incoming or existent psychology majors?

LB: My biggest piece of advice is that you can do anything you put your mind to. I know it sounds cheesy and obvious, but it’s SO important to know. If you apply yourself and work hard, there is nothing that you can’t achieve. Start a company, work in a lab, get perfect grades, anything—everything is within your reach! If I were talking to a student, any student, right now I would say, “You are such a special and unique gift to the world—we would truly be missing something without you. I am so proud of you and glad that you are here.”

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Maddie Stults is a first year psychology student at Florida State University. She is passionate about mental health and volunteers for NAMI Tallahassee in her free time. When she's not writing or studying, she loves playing guitar, tennis, listening to music, and re-watching Parks and Rec on Netflix.
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