Active Minds Chapters Increase Awareness of Mental Health

Active Minds, a national organization with campus chapters involved nationwide, is an organization that has shown proven change in raising awareness of mental health on campuses and lowering stigma for getting help. Recent coverage on the NBC Nightly News portrays a story of a student from the Auburn University chapter who struggled with mental health in the past and is now using his recovery to inspire others and make a difference.

Through participating in Active Minds, students can find commonalities in the ways that mental health has impacted them, whether it be personally, among friends or in their own families. Student advocacy from involvement in Active Minds has prevented suicides, promoted recovery and inspired more students to seek help from counseling and other healing resources. From this, students are able to advocate through tabling and conservation, volunteering, and even working to enact legislation and start a broader conversation with their campus administration. In fact, according to NBC Nightly News, new research from the RAND Corporation suggests that Active Minds chapters maks a direct difference on campuses nationwide, at the 450-plus universities that have chapters. Read about the research here.

See the video here.

On our very own campus, the Virginia Tech chapter of Active Minds aspires to accomplish similar tasks, starting with smaller conversations, but ultimately aiming at a larger scale. Virginia Tech’s chapter hopes to “Send Silence Packing” this fall. According to Active Minds, “Send Silence Packing” is a campaign from Active Minds that comes to around 30–40 college campuses every year, displaying notes from those who have lost a loved one to suicide. These notes are accompanied by backpacks, donated by the families who have lost loved ones, as a means of coping and healing. The first demonstration was in 2008 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., pictured below.

The main intention behind this campaign is to create a campus climate based on conversation and prevention — honoring the lives lost and learning ways to prevent suicide is a proven tool to inspire change.

Active Minds features important metrics on their website about this campaign:

  • There have been 183-plus exhibit stops since 2008.

  • 946,710 individuals have experienced Send Silence Packing displays.

  • 97 percent of those who experienced these displays found them educational.

To find more information about Send Silence Packing and Active Minds, click here.

“We want to bring this exhibit to campus to show Virginia Tech how prevalent the issue is,” said Active Minds at Virginia Tech President, Emily Wills. “Tabling and some of our other events are influential; however, this project would be a chance for us to make a greater impact and reach more people. We want to show students that they are not alone and that change needs to be made to prevent suicide.”

Active Minds at Virginia Tech is in the process of planning for this event by securing resources and planning logistics. This is a major campus-wide effort, so if you are interested in learning more about Active Minds or assisting with this effort you can find them on social media. This event is set to take place on Oct. 22 on the Drillfield, so be sure to look out for the exhibit. Active Minds at Virginia Tech are continually accepting donations for this effort and are always open to new members, so be sure to learn more about them and the organization that started it all.

RVSP to the Facebook event here.

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