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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Active Minds raise awareness

This past week, Active Minds of Grinnell, a group on campus that works to promote mental health awareness, hosted a series of events to encourage open discussion about different mental health issues.
Active Minds is a national organization that nationally works to de-stigmatize mental health problems and locally to make sure that the College is promoting suitable mental health services for students. Founded last year, Active Minds has created awareness of the resources available to college students on campus and in town.
“You don’t find time to take care of yourself, you make time,” said Wellness Coordinator Jen Jacobsen.
Active Minds originally began in 2001 when a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Alison Malmon, lost her brother to suicide. Since then a national office was created and different chapters have been lead by other college students across the country.
On the Grinnell campus, Active Minds has hosted events such as Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Training to teach students how to prevent suicide. Poweshiek County Mental Health Center Liaison and Active Minds coordinator Alicia Sundsmo led the session held on Wednesday and answered questions about how to recognize warning signs of suicide crisis amongst peers.
Another session held Thursday was dedicated to Depression Screening where students could fill out questionnaires and choose to go over their results with a counselor from the PCMHC. They even included therapy dogs to encourage attendance by students who might be apprehensive about attending a mental health related event.
After being recommended by the Mental Health Review Committee, the Grinnell chapter, led by Andrea Leiser ’11 and Chris Hildebrand ’10 has grown to include just under 20 students.
According to Alyssa Penner ’10, previous co-leader of Active Minds, there is a lot of misinformation about the way Mental Health is dealt with on campus.
“All the resources here are for anyone, you can go and talk about a random bad day you’ve had, if you’re concerned about a friend, or just go for anything,” Penner said.
Hildebrand said that half of the problem surrounding the issue of mental health is that too many individuals do not want to talk about it, yet students at Grinnell experience these issues more often than similar small institutions.
“Grinnell is competitive in terms of the all around person, and at times people don’t want admit weakness,” Hildebrand said.
By looking at the Health Center in past, one could notice improvements that have been made. In this past year about 20 percent of students made use of the mental health services and for the graduating class of 2009 about 50 percent of them received services at least one in their career here.
One of the misconceptions that Dean for Student Academic Support and Advising Joyce Stern notices is that all too often the message is relayed that once one comes to college, he/she suddenly a fully independent adult. She said functioning successfully here is about being interdependent and learning how to use your resources.
Active Minds meets on Mondays at 6 p.m. and they welcome new members. This November, they will be sending two members will be sent to the National Active Minds convention.

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