The University of Dayton Active Minds chapter recently received the national organization’s “Chapter of the Year” award for their commitment to changing conversation about mental health in the campus community.
The Active Minds Ninth National Mental Health on Campus Conference, held Nov. 9-11 at Florida Central University in Orlando, presented the award to Sarah Liming, a sophomore psychology major and Active Minds co-president, and Erin Anderson, a sophomore education major and club recruitment chair, who represented the chapter at the conference.
The award “recognizes a five-star chapter that sets itself apart by being an invaluable asset to its campus” and “has an effective executive board and passionate chapter members and hosts innovative events that reach a large portion of their school,” according to the conference’s website.
The chapter was selected from approximately 400 others across the country, according to Liming.
Abigail De la Rosa, a senior pre-med major and club co-president, said the second place finish was a huge motivator for this year’s success.
The co-presidents attribute receiving the award to the innovation of printing Public Safety’s phone number and instructions to call in case of ‘thoughts of self harm’ on the backs of every student ID card issued from this year forward.
Anderson presented with Liming at the conference concerning the student ID cards along with two students from George Washington University.
According to De la Rosa, the addition to the student IDs moves in a more institutional direction for the service club.
“We’re working on what we call constitutional changes which are changes that we can see happen within the bylaws of campus,” De la Rosa said.
Active Minds began in 2003 as a group entitled REACH, which was created in response to the suicide of UD student Mike Littler, for whom M-Fest is named and commemorates.
REACH focused on lessening the stigma surrounding mental health issues and helping other students who may be silently struggling with their mental health. REACH was renamed in 2009 when it allied with the national Active Minds organization.
Nearing its 10th anniversary, Active Minds’ mission is fundamentally unchanged, according to Liming.
“We’re eliminating the negative stigma associated with mental illness and bringing awareness to mental health on campus to let people know that it’s okay to discuss it,” Liming said.
Liming said the significance of mental health awareness to UD students is its ubiquity.
According to Anderson, mental health awareness is also important because it is less obvious and more prone to be overlooked.
“If you see someone on crutches, you can see that they’re hurt and you want to help them,” Anderson said. “But you can’t put a bandage on your mental health. It’s not something you can see.”
Active Minds hosts events throughout the year aimed at maintaining positive mental health. According to Anderson, several large events remain for this school year and one remaining for the calendar year:
“Coming up in December we have National Stress-Out Day and we have M-fest every March,” Anderson said. “We also celebrate Eating Disorder Awareness Week in February.”