End the stigma: let’s talk about mental health awareness

End the stigma: let’s talk about mental health awareness

Lucy Stone, News Editor


As Suicide Prevention Awareness Month comes to a close, a new group on campus is beginning to flourish. The National 501(c)3 non-profit organization Active Minds will be bringing its chapter to Armstrong’s campus in October.

Active Minds is a student-run organization that promotes mental health awareness. It will be here to reduce the stigma of mental health disorders or illnesses and create a safe space for students to be more open and talk about any mental health problem they might have.

Sarah Jillson has been the brains behind Active Minds since first working with the organization during her Methods of Health Promotion class.  Jillson has big ideas for Active Minds.

“I want to work to educate people on the different mental health disorders, show people how to recognize the different symptoms of each mental health disorder, and work on how to get someone help if they need it.

She is no stranger to dealing with mental health problems. Growing up, she was unaware that she was suffering from any mental health illness. “I kind of grew up and thought that it was normal to feel that way,” she says. “I went through a lot depression and anxiety.”

“When I reevaluated my life, I started to become happier. But I still see a lot of my friends struggle with PTSD everyday or addiction because it’s the only thing that gets them out of bed in the morning,” she says.

Jillson believes many college students, especially incoming freshman, can benefit from having a group on campus that advocates visiting the Counseling Center and not being afraid to ask for help.

Since Active Minds is a non-profit, fundraising and advocacy for mental health awareness are its top goals. Jillson’s future plans revolve around not only creating a safe space for students to talk but for spreading awareness and collaborating with as many campus organizations or resources as possible, primarily the Counseling Center.

“In the spring, I want to work with The Counseling Center to try and put on a Mental Health Awareness Fair,” Jillson explains. “We can focus on the biggest mental health disorders among college students.”

Jillson hopes that Active Minds will be well established enough to continue after she graduates in May 2017. One project she is working towards bringing to Armstrong is called Send Silence Packing, a visual display of 1100 backpacks spread out on a campus that represents the 1100 college students who commit suicide each year. Since 2008, Send Silence Packing has visited over 100 cities.

Active Minds’ first meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 3:45 p.m.. The location is room 103 in University Hall. For more information, email Sarah Jillson at sj2242@stu.armstrong.edu.

Sarah Jillson is currently pursuing a Master’s of Public Health after receiving a B.S. in Health Science from Armstrong in 2015. In the future, she hopes to study disease prevalence among animals in western state parks but is a strong advocate for mental health awareness in college students.