by Daria Purdy ’19
Active Minds, Inc. is a national non-profit organization, and it has a chapter at Providence College. Active Minds was founded in 2000 by University of Pennsylvania student Alison Malmon, following the suicide of her older brother Brian.
The non-profit strives to end the stigma surrounding mental illness by opening up conversations about mental health and encouraging students to get the help they need. Active Minds has over 400 chapters at colleges and universities throughout the country.
Students Colleen Andersen ’17 and Cassandra Caggiano ’18 are co-presidents of the Active Minds chapter at PC, and Connor Murphy ‘17, Abby Wolf ’18, and Anissa Latifi ’18 serve on the Executive Board.
Andersen describes the mission of the chapter as “ending the stigma surrounding mental illness on our campus through building awareness and educating all students.” The organization is not a support group, but rather a catalyst for starting conversation about mental illness on campus, and giving students the confidence to seek the mental health support they need. Furthermore, Andersen and Caggiano work to educate the PC community about the larger organization of Active Minds and its mission.
The Active Minds chapter meets every other Thursday at 7 p.m. in Feinstein 115. According to Andersen, during meetings the Active Minds members “brainstorm ideas and plan events.” Fun activities, such as making stress balls, are often incorporated. The meetings end with the members sharing a high and a low note of the week.
In November, the leaders of the Active Minds chapter at PC were able to attend the National Mental Health on Campus Conference in Sacramento, California.
Andersen says that at the conference they “had a chance to meet and collaborate with other student leaders a professional advocates from around the country.” The Active Minds leaders were able to attend workshops, hear from keynote speakers, and share their struggles and successes with other student leaders.
Andersen says that they also learned more about how to give marginalized groups more access to mental health support. Andersen describes that at PC, the three groups of students who are least likely to use the Personal Counseling Center are athletes, members of the LGBTQ community, and first generation college students.
Since the theme of the conference was “inclusion,” the Active Minds leaders learned a lot about how to give marginalized groups mental health support.
Using what they learned from the conference, Andersen says that she hopes her and her fellow members can make “students feel as though they can speak up for themselves and their friends when it comes to issues related to mental illness.”