Active Minds fighting mental illness

Chantal Lawson, Staff Writer

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there were a total of 43.6 million adults, aged 18 or older, with some mental illness in 2014. It’s now 2016, and these numbers have risen to a whopping 26 percent nationwide.

Along with the rising numbers comes unhealthy stigma toward the disease. Luckily, colleges nationwide, including Wayne State College, have created a club called Active Minds to help battle this stigma and promote mental health.

The Active Minds website provides compelling statistics and facts about mental health among college students. These facts show that one out of every four college students live with a diagnosable mental disorder, and that college-age adults are the least likely to seek help. This is dangerous, because suicide is the second leading cause of death of college students, annually claiming 1,100 lives.

The Wayne State Active Minds chapter was started last year by Courtney Paul, Steph Whitlow and Abby Stewart. They have over 100 members on their email list, and 15 active members.

“We are only about two years old, so we are still trying to increase our membership which is an obstacle I think all new clubs go through,” member Hailey Mills said.

Active Minds has done everything from offering to walk with people to the counseling center so they wouldn’t feel alone, to making a homemade scale with words like “beautiful” or “kind” in place of numbers.

Last semester, members did a dorm storm, walking from room to room to inform students about the club and handing out bracelets and candy for small donations.

You might have seen the group most noticeably on your way to dinner. They set up tables outside of Chartwells for several mental health awareness activities.

Active Minds will sponsor Stress Less Week during finals week. They will have cans for students to stomp on to “stomp out stigma” and bubble wrap to pop their stress away.

They also host speakers, work together as a group for highway cleanup and hold various events to get the community involved in their mission.

April 16th the Wayne State Active Minds chapter will be holding their annual Step Against Stigma Walk in the Willow Bowl to increase awareness about mental health.

The passion for what this group does is clear within its members. Active Minds secretary Emily Leeper shared her thoughts on how important it is that Active Minds is truly active here at Wayne State.

“It is important for Active Minds to be at Wayne State, because we work for something that I think is very needed in our society, and our generation can make it catch fire. Our mission is to change the conversation about mental health, and we like to call ourselves stigma fighters.We often use the saying, ‘Stigma is shame. Shame causes silence. Silence hurts us all.’

“As students, I think we believe stress is something we naturally have to deal with until it breaks us. We need to realize that self care isn’t something we should take for granted, especially as college students.”

The group meets every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in the Meadowlark Room in the Kanter Student Center. Students, faculty, staff and community members are all encouraged and welcome to the group’s meetings and events.

“You don’t have to be a psychology or counseling major, for mental health affects everyone. It helped me discover my true passion, meet lifelong friends and have a whole lot of fun spreading awareness,” Leeper said.