Here at Northeastern there are hundreds of great student organizations to get involved in! We want to highlight some organizations that you may not know, so we’re interviewing members of student organizations to learn a little bit about them and what their club is about. Tune in every other week for a new post from The Club Chronicle!
The Club Chronicle Interview #5: Active Minds
Interview conducted on February 17th, 2019
Can you tell me about yourself and why you joined Active Minds?
My name is Sarah Williams. I’m the president of Active Minds and I’m a 4th year studying biochemistry and neuroscience. I joined Active Minds my first semester at Northeastern because mental health awareness and destigmatizing mental illness is something I’m very passionate about. I tried to start a similar club in high school so I was very happy to see that Active Minds was already present at Northeastern. I have a history of mental illness in my family, the majority of my loved ones struggle with mental illness in one form or another. I see how stigma seems to make their problem worse. When I felt helpless I wanted to think about a way I could help, so tackling stigma seemed like something an ally could take on. I’m actually bringing it into my academics too – I’m interested in studying the biological causes of mental illness and I’m looking at PhD programs to apply to to make a career out of it.
What does Active Minds do here on campus?
Active Minds at Northeastern is one of over 400 chapters of a national organization. Our mission is to spread awareness about mental health, destigmatize mental illness, and to start the conversation about mental health on campus. We like to say that not everyone has a mental illness but everyone has mental health and it’s often overlooked on campus during college, which is one of the most stressful times in people’s lives. We like to encourage everyone to think about mental health.
Do you put on any events?
We mostly have general meetings Mondays at 6. Basically, we’ll do informational meetings where we talk about specific disorders and have discussions about mental health. We put on a couple of big events open to the greater community throughout the semester. Our biggest event is coming up this Wednesday February 20th, Break the Silence. It’s a story sharing event where people can come share their stories about how mental health has impacted their life through themselves or their loved ones. It’s an intimate event in AfterHours. It can get intense, but I think it’s a victory for people to get on stage and share, and it’s a victory for people to come and listen because both of those parts are crucial for starting a conversation about mental health. That’s something we do once every semester.
How can you speak on stage?
Reach out to anyone on Active Minds, mostly through our Facebook page which is Active Minds at Northeastern. What’s cool is people tell their stories through different mediums, some people perform slam poetry and others just have a stream of consciousness. We’ve never had someone perform a song but I’d think that’d be cool.
How do you advertise that event usually?
We usually post on social media or reach out to past speakers. We encourage everyone to come, so any publicity is helpful.
Do you have any other social media for people to use to contact you?
We mostly use Facebook, but we have an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other than participating in Break the Silence are there other ways people can get involved?
All our meetings are open to everyone, we’re very non-committal. Anyone interested can come to as many or little meeting as they want. We usually post on Facebook about our topic of the day. We often have self-care meetings where we’ll have coloring books or make cookies to de-stress. Its super low key if anyone wants to come.
What’s your favorite event you’ve gotten to be a part of?
It’s definitley Break the Silence. It’s so meaningful and important. It’s something that doesn’t often happen to create a space where people can talk about tough and personal stories. I think that’s the best way to really start a conversation about mental health is just to hear personal stories. For a lot of people, it feels good just to hear someone tell their story to know that they are not alone. To hear someone who’s gone through similar struggles is great for them to feel they can share and they can reach out. I think what’s cool also is normally at the event we have maybe 10-12 speakers signed up, but oftentimes there’s extra time at the end, and we’ve had the same number of people from the audience get up and talk. It’s awesome as a creator and host to see that it had that much impact on individuals.
Are there any other events you’re working on to have in the future?
We’re trying to start a welcome week workshop with the hopes of incorporating it into all new student organizations.
What would that workshop entail?
Basically, it would be a workshop about spreading awareness about mental illness, prioritizing mental health and training students to identify warning signs if anyone is struggling. We hope it will start a conversation about mental health and encourage students to pay attention to their mental health during their college career. It would also highlight mental health resources we have on campus, as some students don’t know how to find a counselor or what UHCS offers for mental health resources.
How many students are involved in Active Minds?
Probably about 10-15 people regularly come to our meetings.
How long has Active Minds been around for?
It started a few years before I got here. We had our 5 year celebration last year.
What’s one thing you wished people knew about Active Minds
Simply, that it exists. The mission in and of itself is so important, so knowing that it's around and that there are people who are encouraging others to focus on mental health is important. There’s always a place to come to talk about mental health and mental illness. If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone.
What is your favorite part about being involved in Active Minds?
Feeling like I have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of people that are struggling with mental illness.