Although college can be exciting, it can also be overwhelming, leading to different forms of mental health conditions. The nonprofit organization, Active Minds, is dedicated to addressing these mental health conditions issues through outreach.
In 2003 Alison Malmon established the organization in efforts to raise mental health awareness among college students after her older brother committed suicide in 2000.
In a video published on the Active Minds site, Malmon expressed that she wanted to change the culture at her campus, University of Pennsylvania.
“I was motivated to just change the culture, change the conversation about mental health,” said Malmon. “To create on my campus an environment where students could speak openly about mental health and talk about what they’re going through.”
Featured in the video was Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, who said, “…you have to get much deeper into the problem and to change all of the things leading up to it. That’s where Active Minds may have the greatest impact.”
Kion Glover, the president of Active Minds at Florida A&M University, said that the goal of the organization is to raise awareness of mental health and remove the stigma that surrounds it in fun, interactive ways. Glover added that students are fortunate to have access to a free counseling center.
“FAMU students are blessed to have such an awesome counseling service that is prepared with counselors highly trained in providing the best of help to all,” Glover said. “In essence, it's basically free for students to get counseling service throughout the week to get help students deserve and need.”
The FAMU Office of Counseling Services , who works hands on with Active Minds, provides a professional, safe atmosphere where students can discuss academic and personal issues. Students who are currently enrolled are eligible for services with individualized appointments once per week, but all scheduling is done on a case-by-case basis.
Of the 458 chapters of Active Minds, the FAMU chapter is the second chapter on a historically black college and university. The chapter was founded in Spring 2009 and is committed to addressing mental health issues among African-Americans through outreach activities and other programing.
Glover encourages students to seek help if they are feeling depressed or overwhelmed since she has experienced depression and anxiety herself.
“As someone that deals with depression and anxiety, I personally know what it feels like to endure the struggles that come along mental illness,” Glover expressed. “With that being said, I never want anyone to feel like this. Ever.”
Active Minds Vice President Carolanne Briscoe, has had her own share of mental disparities, but uses professional resources, her “FAMUly,” and Active Minds as a means of being the voice to the voiceless. She said that because she attends a historically black college and university it leads her to work harder on addressing the stigma of African-Americans and mental illness.
“I can say the pain is unbearable mostly every day, but to know FAMU gave me the professional resources I need as well the new FAMUly I surround myself with, I am stronger than my illness. This gave me the strength to transition my suffering to a blessing by being the voice to the voiceless.”
Students who are looking to get involved in fighting the stigma on mental health on campus can follow FAMU Active Minds on Instagram @famuactiveminds