A new campus organization focused on encouraging students to open up about mental and wellness issues held its first meeting Wednesday.
Active Minds opened its charter last semester with the goal of spreading awareness about mental health on the Ole Miss campus, chapter co-president Matthew Clayton said.
“We try to make it known that we do not help students with mental illness, rather we aim to make the campus more knowledgeable of mental health,” Clayton said.
Active Minds is a nationwide organization that was founded in 2003. The organization spread to college campuses in all 50 states and four universities in Mississippi.
Students created Active Minds because of a common desire to help students understand mental illness as an issue on college campuses.
Since the club’s first informational meeting last spring, it has collected more than 100 members.
Chapter co-president Kathryn Forbes said she wants students to know that the club is for anyone interested and that participating in the organization free.
“I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression myself and was home this past semester to learn how to enjoy life and take care of myself,” Forbes said.
Forbes said her own battle with mental health and wellness problems led to her involvement in the colonization of the Ole Miss chapter.
“You don’t have to have had past struggles with mental health to come,” Forbes said. “This is a place where you can learn more about yourself and what hundreds of thousands of college students struggle with.”
Active Minds members participate in club events to educate other students on mental health and wellness issues.
“Members serve as ‘stigma fighters’ on our campus,” Forbes said. “They participate in our activities, learn how to take care of others and themselves and spread the word about what we do.”
Forbes said Active Minds works to not only educate students but encourage and equip students to have conversations surrounding the topic of mental illness.
The organization held their first meeting last Wednesday with the group’s faculty advisor and psychology advisor Kelly G. Wilson as a guest speaker.
Wilson said she is passionate about mental health awareness and how to help those that are suffering from mental health disabilities in different areas.
“The way we think of mental health, we need to equally distribute the weight and how we carry it,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s speech “College FTW: How to Bombproof Your Mental Health” revealed statistics of mental health and how it affects the modern world. She spoke about the problems of being unaware of mental health and the people that are suffering close by.
“It isn’t just diabetes and obesity causing disabilities today,” Wilson said. “There is depression. Depression is the No. 2 ranked for years lost to disability.”
Active Minds plans to host a public speaker, usually a member of the Ole Miss community, at every meeting to speak on the topic of mental health and wellness and being aware of the issue. Meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. every other Wednesday in Farley 202.