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Active Minds

                                   

Active Minds is a National nonprofit organization dedicated to utilizing the student voice to raise mental health awareness among college students. The organization develops and supports student-run chapters on colleges and university campuses that promote a dialogue around issues of mental health and educate the entire student body about available resources in and around the campus community. WSC is the first college in ND to have a chapter! Active Minds at WSC is working to build a new generation of leaders who are more in tune with their mental health and the needs of others who live everyday with mental health disorders.

One of the main goals is to reduce the stigma related to talking about mental health. Stigma refers to a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illness. Stigma leads others to avoid living, socializing, or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders. College students may be at high risk for developing a mental illness, as many illnesses first present at the college age. Pair that with the high-stress environment of college life and the fact that many young adults are on their own for the first time, and students are especially vulnerable to developing problems with their mental health. In a 2006 study by the American College Health Association, nearly half of all college students reported having felt so depressed in the past year they couldn't function.

Members of Active Minds at WSC advertise existing professional services, and help students know when those professional resources may be needed. The chapter is a support networks for members, creating a place where student advocates know that others may share similar experiences. Active Minds members meet weekly or biweekly to plan events on their campus that raise awareness about issues of mental health and available resources; that promote an open, enlightened dialogue around the issues; and serve as a liaison between students and the mental health community.

Common events include Mental Health Awareness Week campaigns, panel discussions, movie screenings, Stomp out Stigma events, flyering campus, and stress-relief activities during final exams. All chapters also frequently "table" - place pamphlets and brochures from the Counseling Center and other mental health agencies - in a location accessible to students in a central part of campus. 

Who should join Active Minds? Students who are passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding mental health, students who have experienced mental health struggles of their own, students who have been impacted by the struggles of someone close to them, or students who are interested in working in the mental health field.

Students who are interested in joining Active Minds may contact Leah Hoffman at leah.hoffman@willistonstate.edu or call 701-774-4212.