Kean University is an institution that seeks to provide awareness and information about a multitude of issues. It has the capacity to do so because of the various clubs and organizations on campus that encourage students to join and help others in need.
With that being said, there is a new chapter of the national organization on campus called Active Minds. Like most service organizations, this one has a purpose to educate students and the community. Active Minds is an organization that wants to raise awareness about mental health issues among students by dismissing the shame associated with mental health disorders.
The eboard consists of President Melissa Rojas, Vice President Ashley Albarracin, Secretary Nathalie Bernier, Treasurer Roberto Adams, Director of Public Relations Angela Altamirano, Resource Coordinator Nesrine Bouziane-Belhadj and Advisor Natalie Siedhof.
"Active Minds is an organization that hopes to spread awareness about mental health issues in today's society, and in the college life as well. It is also important to showcase how situations or issues can be alleviated if help is involved," said Bernier.
Rojas hopes to support students by increasing the techniques and skills needed for coping with mental health issues.
"I, myself am responsible for bringing the chapter to Kean University. However, along the way I have chosen an excellent group of eboard members with the help of my advisors Natalie Siedhof and Michelle Zuzock," said Rojas. "The process was a desire and commitment to bring a national chapter to Kean. Part of the process of being approved can be found in the Involvement Center [for those interested]."
Rojas' position as president is useful because some people are not aware what great services Kean has for students. It is important to use any resources surrounding the campus, and Active Minds will serve a greater purpose at Kean.
"By no means is the chapter able to help clinically, including therapy or as a support group. Instead, part of this chapter aims to introduce new methods for self care, stress free and fun activities that help a student realize that they are not alone. Something different about this chapter is that it includes a resource coordinator that hopes to partner up with counseling services to give out informational resources and ways students can get in contact if they do want to seek further help," said Rojas.
Aside from the Kean University chapter, this national organization was founded by Alison Malmon after her brother committed suicide. Malmon understood that there are thousands of young people who suffer from mental illness in silence. Thus, creating Active Minds was a way to start conversations on campus.
"Students have identified mental health as their issue,” said Malmon. “They are going to be the ones that change this for future generations.”
Statistics according to Active Minds shows:
- 39 percent of students in college experience a significant mental health issue
- 50 percent of cases of mental health issues begin by the age of 14 and 75 percent begin by the age of 24
- Two-thirds of students with anxiety and depression do not seek treatment
- 1 in 5 adults have a mental illness and 50 percent will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime
In an environment like a college campus, it is easy to feel left out or uncomfortable with mental health issues and accepting them. Active Minds wishes to help students become more open about discussing their issues and supporting others as well.
What will Active Minds teach students on campus? They will educate students on ways to provide support and help for individuals dealing with suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Also by informing students about:
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Anxiety disorder
- Stress disorder
Through this organization, students can also learn about the symptoms of mental health disorders for themselves and others. Some common symptoms may include:
- Feelings of lethargy or exhaustion all of the time
- Withdrawal from friends, family and activities you used to enjoy
- Restless, irritable, agitated or anxious movements or behaviors
Active Minds is an organization that deals with mental health issues, so they share advocacy with the Counseling Services located in Downs Hall, Room 127 to help combat these symptoms. This partnership at Kean plans to enroll guest speakers, fundraisers, events and activities to build a healthier environment on campus.
Since this is a new chapter at Kean University, it is important for the chapter to have a group of motivated and responsible members.
However, to be a member on Cougar Link one must attend at least two meetings and two events during each semester. Once that is done, one can ask to be a member on Cougar Link. Anyone can become a member!