Members of the Wellness Committee through the Student Government Association have started a new club to address mental health issues on campus called Active Minds.
Active Minds is a national organization with over 450 chapters on college campuses across the country, aiming to spread awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health, club President Abigail Mayo said.
Mayo started working to form the club along with students Jeff Hazard and Kendra Ross to help students struggling emotionally on a student level.
“I’m just so excited about it. We’re really, really passionate about it and the group of us have really been looking for a project to sink our teeth into and this seems like it will be one of those things, especially if students get involved in it and they show interest in it,” Mayo said.
The club will be planning programs to help students struggling with mental health issues and brainstorming how to spread awareness on campus, Mayo said.
“It’s another outlet for students to talk about mental health and to reduce the stigma of mental health and to bring more awareness to it,” Ross said.
The club was just approved two weeks ago, so members are still in the beginning stages, but they had their first meeting on Feb. 10 and started determining campus needs.
Ideas being considered include contributing to National Kindness Week by putting notes around campus for students to see as a way to brighten their day or having theme weeks where there are programs related to that theme, Mayo said.
“We also want to start a social media page that posts inspirational quotes. I thought that was just the cutest idea,” she said with a smile.
Hazard, is excited about the club because he wants to offer students another place to turn when they need help, because the Wellness Center still struggles with a waiting list, he said.
“I want to see the stigma of mental health going away and (talking about mental health issues) kind of just being accepted as the norm because everyone has their stuff per se, but society doesn’t really allow people to talk about those issues that they have,” Hazard said.
Director of the Wellness Center Martha Coulter is the advisor for the club and is excited that they have started it because she herself has been aware of Active Minds for a while and has seen some of the great things students have been able to do with it.
“I think it’s very important that it’s student run,” Coulter said. “When it comes from peers … students are much more likely to reach out.”
She will be taking four students including Mayo, Hazard and Ross to the Active Minds National Conference in Washington D.C. next month to help them learn more about the organization and how they can help at Castleton, she said.
“We’re going to hear a bunch of sessions and try to get a sense of what Active Minds is and where we want to take the approach for it,” Hazard said.
Mayo, Ross and Hazard are hopeful the club will take off and be a success for many years to come.
“Hopefully it will be a long-lasting program here at Castleton that students get involved in and will be able to make an impact,” Ross said.
“It gives me so much joy to be able to create something that I know will probably exist past my time here and become a staple of Castleton. I think it’s a really cool process,” Mayo said.
The group will meet every Sunday in the SGA office from 5-6 p.m. and anyone is welcome to join, Mayo said.
SGA President James Wolfe is proud of what the Wellness Committee has done.
“It’s a benefit to our student body to have this program,” Wolfe said.