Active Minds works to remove social stigma around mental illness

Through a combination of social and education events, this organization dedicates itself to the discussion of MU students’ mental health.

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Mental health and mental illness can be hard things to talk about. A combination of the difficulties of opening up and the addition of many social stigmas surrounding the topic make it challenging for students to search for help, even if they know they need it. Active Minds, a student-run organization, is working hard to change this.

Active Minds is dedicated to increasing students’ awareness of mental health issues and the symptoms of mental illness. They also provide information on available resources and encourage students to seek help for themselves or a friend as soon as needed.

“Our goal is to remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness and create an open environment for discussion of mental health issues,” President Sara Schneider and Vice President Veronica Witt said in a joint statement. “Here at Mizzou, we have so many resources available to students and we are hoping to promote those resources and make mental health easier to talk about through events and activities.”

The group, currently containing 48 members, plans several social and educational events throughout the school year. On the social side of things, they plan Halloween and Valentine’s Day socials as well as other interactive activities. For educational events, they host groups that give presentations to its members on mental health and self care. They also plan campus-wide events and demonstrations in order to draw more attention to their cause.

“A majority of our large events typically occur in the spring semester,” Schneider and Witt said. “We have our Shed the Silence event in April where we display 1,100 shirts to honor students that die by suicide each year. The shirts are all donated by student organizations and individual students. After the event, we donate them back into the community. We also have a Share Your Story Panel where our members can share their personal stories and experiences with mental health.”

Other than their meetings and events, another important aspect of Active Minds is their responsibility of being a liaison between health care providers and MU students, making sure that students’ mental health needs are being adequately met with proper care.

“We educate other students on mental health, but our duties also include educating the resources available on campus and within the community,” Schneider and Witt said. “If we hear concerns from students, we try to take that back to our executive board and find solutions.”

Meetings for Active Minds are every other Thursday in the MU Wellness Resource Center, located in the lower level of the MU Student Center.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp | asharp@themaneater.com

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