M-Fest will promote mental health, remove stigma

By: Mary Kate Dorr, Staff Writer

Saturday, March 22, ArtStreet will be hosting the 11th annual M-Fest, a musical festival presented by the University of Dayton’s organization Active Minds. Active Minds is the mental health awareness club here at UD which organizes several events throughout the year to help promote their mission. “Our mission is to stomp out the stigma of mental health on college campuses,” said junior psychology major and M-Fest public relations manager, Jack Raisch.

The “M” in M-Fest stands for Mike, as the event began back in 2003 after UD student Mike Littler died by suicide. The festival is held every year to remember and honor his life, and help reduce the stigma behind seeking help.

“It is focused on what can be done to create positive mental health, especially on college campuses,” said Raisch.

This year M-Fest will be held from noon until 6 p.m. at ArtStreet with musical performances, tasty food, games and powerful personal testimonies. Raisch said therapy dogs will be present as well. The musical acts include several of UD’s own: NineTies, Dana Clark and Alec Brown, Schnieder and Co., Libby Gill and many more, including the UD Dance Team. Musician Craig Owens will also be making an appearance.

“Past experiences with M-Fest have been overwhelmingly positive,” Raisch said. A variety of performances help contribute to the success of the event. In the past, there has been participation from service organizations, musicians, artists, testimonies and clubs that all lead to a creative and positive atmosphere.

“It sheds light on often unspoken topics in an inviting atmosphere,” he said.

M-Fest is Active Mind’s biggest event on campus, so most of the year is devoted to creating the best possible festival.
“The major aspects in preparing M-Fest are: coordination, coordination, coordination,” Raisch said.

In preparing the festival, Active Minds must constantly be in contact with different service organizations and facilities. The graphic designers, this year consisting of senior visual communication design major Nick Cooper and team, must begin early as well to create the brilliant and colorful logos and designs.

Erin Anderson, junior middle childhood education major, and Michele Palmer, sophomore intervention specialist, are the co-presidents of Active Minds, and have contributed a lot of time and effort into M-Fest.

“It’s a hectic job, and they do it with efficiency and a smile on their face,” Raisch said. Other team members include Jamie Flannery, senior psychology and English major, who is in charge of scheduling both bands and testimonies for the event, and junior Psychology major Lauren Bovenzki.

Active Minds is a chapter of a national non-profit organization, also by the name of Active Minds. The organization was founded in 2003 under the name “REACH,” but eventually changed their name to Active Minds. Raisch said that he has loved his time with Active Minds because of its steadfast mission.

“The quote that is on our Facebook page is, ‘We’re not a big commitment, but we’re kind of a big deal,’ and this speaks to the heart of Active Minds,” he said. “Anyone can take daily, little actions to help a stranger, help a friend and to even help oneself.”

M-Fest is $5 for a wristband that allows admission. With the $10 purchase of an official M-Fest -shirt, the wristband is free. The organization will have a table up outside of Kennedy Union from March 17 to 21 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. selling both wristbands and T-shirts. For more information, visit the Active Minds and M-Fest 2014 official Facebook pages.