Over the last year, our Siena Saints have learned about just how important it is to check in on both ourselves and those around us. Siena is a community that extends its arms to make everyone feel loved and welcomed. Our mental health as human beings, and more specifically as college students, can and should be openly discussed. A brand new club on Siena’s campus is offering students a place to do just this, changing the conversation and erasing the stigma surrounding mental health; welcome to Active Minds.
Active Minds is a national nonprofit organization that supports mental health awareness and education for young adults. It is a community of schools, workplaces, and general communities across the nation that care about their own mental health and that of those around them. Many of these are student-led chapters, just as Siena’s new chapter. The leaders of Active Minds believe that young people are the drivers of change. The primary goal of Active Minds is to change the conversation, save lives, and build stronger families and communities on campus and around the country. The organization Active Minds was created by Alison Malmon after she lost her only sibling, her brother Brian, to suicide. After recognizing how preventable his passing could have been if he had received the support and resources that he needed, she vowed to revolutionize the way that we approach mental health in the United States.
After hearing about Active Minds and seeing the need for a mental health platform, I approached Kate Kaufman Burns, the Director of the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion, about the prospect of initiating a chapter at Siena College. I had the pleasure of working with Kate towards the end of the fall semester to move through the startup processes both at Siena and with Active Minds to bring our chapter to life. Now that Active Minds is a newly established club, it will serve as the programming arm of the Office of Health and Wellness Promotion to offer students time to gather and openly discuss mental health. The new organization plans to: erase the stigma surrounding mental health on Siena College’s campus, cultivate awareness and education of mental health problems occurring on our campus, implement solutions to these mental health issues based upon what the student body feels to be relevant, and improve Siena Saints’ self-care strategies and methods of supporting one another.
The Executive Board of Active Minds is comprised of students of varying majors and interests, all sharing the common passion of mental health advocacy. I am a sophomore and will be serving as the President of Siena College’s Active Minds. The Vice President of Active Minds is sophomore Nicholas Scavone, and our Treasurer is sophomore Charlie Mandracchia. Secretary and freshman Jillian Barend and sophomore Public Relations Officer Natalie Colaizzo are both Certified Peer Health Educators and will be using their certification to help Active Minds plan events for the student body. Last but certainly not least, our second Public Relations Officer is junior Miranda Kane. With a mixture of majors, passions, and areas of expertise, the Active Minds Executive Board plans to host events that emphasize self-care, host educational speakers, and even open forums that allow students to voice their needs and concerns on our campus.
I am extremely grateful for everyone who has supported the foundation of Active Minds in our community, and I am proud of what has been accomplished thus far. I strongly encourage all Saints to get involved with Active Minds. Mental health affects everyone because mental health is a part of everyone. Please join us; express your needs and learn to better take care of yourself and those around you!