You probably saw the yellow flags in front of the library on Monday. You probably saw the yellow ribbons that were hung around campus. You probably heard about a suicide speaker that came to campus on Wednesday. You might’ve heard about QPR training.
I’m the culprit behind all that stuff.
I happen to be the president of an organization called Active Minds. Our slogan is “Changing the conversation about mental health” and that is exactly what we’re trying to do.
Active Minds is a student-run organization that holds campus-wide events for mental health advocacy. We want to talk about mental health and we want to talk about it in a positive light. We want to stomp out the negative stigma of mental health.
Did you know that one in four adults struggles with some aspect of mental health? That’s 350 students on this campus. And most of them aren’t getting the help that they need. Active Minds is here to talk about it and here to do something about it, and I couldn’t be more blessed to be the president of such a great organization with such caring and compassionate students.
We do monthly programming on a specific mental health issue. Some of our programming comes from Active Minds National Headquarters, which is situated in Washington, D.C. Suicide Prevention Week is a program that we put on every year in September because September is Suicide Prevention Month. (The rest of our programming is what our members feel passionate about and want to see addressed on campus.)
Suicide Prevention Week is pretty much the busiest week of my year, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s a week where I feel like I’m really reaching out to the campus and talking about things that are hard to talk about.
On Monday I woke up at six in the morning. I and two other members of Active Minds stuck 1,100 yellow flags in the ground to commemorate and give a visual representation of the 1,100 college students that die by suicide each year.
1,100 college students.
We call this event Field of Flags. We set up a table with Active Minds free stuff on it with a sign explaining what Field of Flags is. We talk about suicide prevention to anyone who stops by. We hand out our free stuff. (Active Minds is the KING of free stuff.) We have pins, silly putty, stickers, magnets, and suicide help packets. We’re out to educate.
On Tuesday night, a bunch of members got together in Newberry Lobby wearing black gear. We were armed with 100 posters that said “YOU ARE NOT ALONE,” 350 yellow ribbons to represent the 350 students on campus who struggle with mental health issues, 15 Active Minds meeting posters, a sheet to hang over the library railing, and rolls of tape.
We spent an hour covering the campus in the posters and ribbons.
Today we had a speaker come to campus to talk about his struggle with suicide and depression. He spoke of the importance of reaching out, of being compassionate, of talking about these issues.
And of course, we had a table of free stuff.
On Thursday we have QPR training, which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer. It’s a gatekeeper training on how to see the signs of suicide. When you see the signs of suicidal tendencies in someone, QPR teaches you how to approach the subject and how to get that person the help that they need. The training is Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Room in the library.
I’m very passionate about Active Minds and it is one of the best things that I do on campus. I do have to plug a little bit: we meet on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. in SAC 104. Meetings are never more than half an hour.
It’s the end of the Suicide Prevention Week 2013. We stuck 1,100 flags in the ground. We want to change that number.
It’s time to start talking.