Reflections of October: Mental Health Awareness

Provided by the Active Minds official website:

One in four students has a mental disorder, and it’s not always visible. Many college level students across the nation are not aware of this fact, according to “Active Minds.” For this reason, such an organization exists and seeks to educate people on the issue.

Created in 2003, Active Minds is a nonprofit organization with a distinct mission: “to help college students use their voice and change the conversation about mental health into something positive,” said Maggie Bertram, Active Minds Manager for Student Lead Initiatives.

October 9, 2012 was recognized as this year’s “National Day without Stigma.” This is a special day that promotes tolerance and addresses various stigmas associated with mental illness during “Mental Health Awareness Week.”The week is usually observed during the first full week of October, while “Day without Stigma” is held on a Monday or Tuesday of that week.

The national movement dates back to 2007, and has been a staple in the Active Minds Organization ever since. There are many ways for everyone interested to get involved, as “there are currently 369 Active Minds chapters on college campuses across the country,” said Bertram.

On Hofstra’s campus, students such as Tracy Smith participate within the countrywide initiative. “It’s good to look at mental illnesses from a personal point of view,” Smith said.  As President of Active Minds Hofstra Chapter, Smith has personal ties of her own to this issue.

“I got involved because I have a lot of close friends and family members who suffer from mental illnesses.” Reasoning such as Tracy’s is not uncommon; there is a popular event held by the various active minds chapters across America known as “Stomp out Stigma.”

In this event, those who understand the detrimental effects of stigmatizing those with a mental disorder unify and participate in stomping on bubble wrap with “hurtful” descriptions such as “wacko” or “crazy,” Bertram clarified.

Active Minds Hofstra Chapter is taking a different approach; “Mindfulness Meditation” is an event held on the evening of “Day without Stigma.”  This event will serve to remind those in attendance that everyone has concerns about mental health, as one of the blockades to that among college students is stress.

This news was exciting to the parent chapter of Active Minds. When describing her favorite aspect of this day, Bertram remarked “It speaks very clearly to our mission. It is also the first day of the year we can unite all of our chapters across the country.” Bertram continued, “Now, with our Facebook page, we create many relationships surrounding mental health awareness week. It’s really special.”

Message from the Author:  While October is recognized as a national observance of mental health complications, I think it is very important to apply that message throughout the year. The people mentioned in this article do not even scratch the surface of the amount of people dealing with the plights of stigmatization. This event may have passed, but the reason it is being posted now is to remind everyone of the importance of carrying the spirit of tolerance with them.

Jeanine Russaw

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4 thoughts on “Reflections of October: Mental Health Awareness

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  2. Thank you for discussing how mental health awareness is tied in with conditions related to this field. These statistics are staggering. Maybe sharing this information will help awareness.

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