By Cinara Marquis
Active Minds is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting mental health across the United States in order to facilitate a conversation on awareness and destigmatization. With a focus on youth and young adults, the organization utilizes education, research and intervention to advocate for mental health issues and suicide prevention, Active Minds encourages a change in the way we talk about mental health.
“What we do is host meetings where we educate students at SUNY Plattsburgh on what mental health means, types of mental health disorders, support for those with a form of mental health disorder, ways to keep our minds healthy in the midst of stressful times, and more!” Emily Boadway, president of the Active Minds club at SUNY Plattsburgh wrote in an email.
The organization aims to create a lasting transformation in the way that mental health is discussed and treated within all of our systems.
“These changes are in the way we talk about mental health, the way we handle situations regarding the mental health of others or ourselves and the overall value or regard of mental health,” Boadway said.
“It is especially important to address mental health in high school, college and university as most mental illnesses manifest between the ages of 14 and 24.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that one out of every five students deals with some form of a mental health condition, but, due to the stigmatization surrounding mental health, these students fail to reach out for help. When mental health is neglected, it worsens and leads some to suicide — among college students suicide is the second leading cause of death.
“Starting the conversation about mental health to break that stigma is what college students need,” Boadway said. “Suicide is preventable with mental health treatment and intervention, which is why we need to spread awareness now to change this statistic and stop suicide once and for all.”
Samantha Burke, vice-president of the chapter, wrote, “Everyone experiences their own issues, and everyone has different ways of helping themselves. For example, seeking counseling, talking to a friend, or relaxing and spending time with yourself, etc. Although, what happens if they don’t know how to help themselves? That’s where spreading awareness about mental health issues arises.”
Active Minds hosts activities and group sessions that welcome discussions of struggles, management strategies, intervention skills and signs of worsening mental illness. These meetings are held to support one another and share ideas or experiences that may be beneficial to people in the room.
The most popular meeting topics educate attendees on how they can use music and art therapy to help those struggling with mental health issues. There are also trivia nights, stress-ball making and writing affirmations. Right before midterms and finals, Active Minds club will host de-stressing meetings where people talk about what is stressing them out while coloring inspiration coloring sheets.
“We provide an open and inclusive space for everyone, no matter what situation they may be in, to let them know that they are not alone, none of us are,” Boadway said.
Alongside these events, the Active Minds club has “worked with various organizations, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention through an Out of Darkness Walk here at SUNY Plattsburgh,” Boadway said. “We have also partnered with the #HealWithIt campaign to host a nature walk to raise awareness of mental health resources and coping mechanisms.”
Boadway first learned about Active Minds at an Involvement Fair in her first semester at SUNY Plattsburgh. She was immediately intrigued.
“As someone who had personally struggled with mental health throughout high school and was never introduced to the conversation surrounding mental health, I wanted to learn more,” Boadway said.
She said that being a part of Active Minds has had a significant impact on her life, teaching her about mental health management and support for herself and others alongside organizational and self-care skills that have helped her adapt to the college environment.
“Active Minds provides a calming space for everyone to come and just relax, share how their classes are going, give advice on what has worked for them and what hasn’t for various courses, and just overall create a supportive environment with people that will advocate for your mental health,” Boadway said.
Burke explained how being in the group helped her break out of her shell.
“I am a very shy person when people get to know me; I don’t socialize as well as others,” Burke said. “However, during that first meeting I went to, it changed my social life here at Plattsburgh.” The group helped improve her mental health, advocacy skills and social skills.
“I love being at the meetings,” she said. “bringing everyone together and talking about our mental health matters.”
For more information, email Active Minds club at @email@example.com, or check out their Instagram page @activemindsplattsburgh. To learn more about the national Active Minds organization, visit to https://www.activeminds.org/.