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Summer Solstice 2019

September 3, 2019

Safe Spaces on College Campuses

Colleges around the U.S. offer many options for peer groups, clubs and activities. When you’re dealing with mental health issues, it can be difficult to make commitments to these organizations, knowing you need to take care of your own mental health first. Many college students and former college students have tackled that issue by creating safe spaces on campus for students dealing with mental health struggles.

Active Minds

Picture it: over 1,000 backpacks displayed on your campus with hundreds of suicide stories attached. Active Minds started Send Silence Packing® to raise suicide awareness. After her brother, Bryan, ended his life, Active Minds founder Alison Malmon recognized her brother’s story was common – too many students were suffering in silence. Active Minds reaches about 600,000 students every year, educating them about mental health.

It’s not only students that are taking notice; the RAND Corporation conducted a study about the impact Active Minds had on college students’ mental wellbeing. They found that students who knew about the organization were more likely to help friends who were struggling with mental health concerns. The presence of Active Minds reduced the stigma associated with mental health on campuses with club chapters. It makes sense with the current college climate: college students are more open-minded in peer-to-peer settings than previous generations were. Suicide is still a major leading cause of death on college campuses. Active Minds continues to encourage students to speak out about mental illness and, in doing so, save lives.

To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA)

Jamie Tworkowski posted a story about Renee Yohe on Myspace in 2006 – her depression, her addictions, her traumas and her recovery. She was 19 at the time. Jamie started TWLOHA under the premise that everyone is meant to love and be loved. Now with 65 student chapters, TWLOHA educates students about suicide prevention awareness. With the help of his team, Jamie, who struggles with depression himself, has responded to more than 200,000 messages from people around the world dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts, self-injury and more.

Other Student-Centered Initiatives

Mental health is getting demystified. From students posting on social media about their struggles with depression to Instagram accounts for mental health advocacy and inspirational quotes and reminders, college students are effecting change.

There are many other college-based mental health organizations around the U.S. that advocate for those with mental illnesses. NAMI on Campus, a part of the National Alliance on Mental Health, aims to educate college students about mental health as well as promote awareness through events. Emory Dark Arts uses art to cope with mental health struggles while Clemson’s mental health organization – You’re Not Alone – offers a safe space for students. The BEE Daring Foundation, which began at Arizona State University, also works to end mental health stigma.

If you’re feeling lost at college or have a friend who is struggling with mental illness, finding one of these organizations on campus, starting your own chapter of a national organization, or even creating your own mental health-minded group could make the transition to campus life a little easier.

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