AUBURN UNIVERSITY- The Auburn University chapter of Active Minds was honored as the National Chapter of the Year at the National Mental Health on Campus conference on Nov. 4, 2016, in Sacramento, California. The conference brought together more than 450 chapters of Active Minds from 31 states and Canada. Active Minds Auburn is led by students and Dr. Dustin Johnson, psychologist at Auburn University Student Counseling Services.
Active Minds, Inc., is a national organization that promotes building mental wellness on college campuses. Through its 450+ chapters around the world, it distributes tools and resources needed in order to create a climate for conversation and support for mental health.
Active Minds, Inc. held the conference in order to bring chapter representatives together and dive deeper in the subject of the journey of mental health. This year’s theme was “Active Minds for Every Mind: Diversity, Inclusion, Unity,” which provided chapters with knowledge on how to make a difference by increasing awareness and acceptance with mental health issues on college campuses.
Auburn Active Minds was awarded for being “a chapter that sets itself apart by being an invaluable asset to its campus and has an effective executive board and passionate chapter members, hosts innovative programs that reach a large portion of the school populations, and makes significant strides in changing its campus culture surrounding mental health,” as stated by Active Minds, Inc.
Former Auburn student Kyle Marchuk created Auburn Active Minds in 2013 in response to the loss of a friend to suicide. Seeing a need to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health, he decided to use his grief to make a positive change on Auburn’s campus.
Three years later, the chapter distinguished itself by creating Mental Wealth Week dedicated to spreading awareness and breaking down the stigma. In addition, the chapter furthered the resources for mental health on campus through the Mental Health Task Force.
The chapter partnered with other university groups and offices such as the Student Government Association, Auburn Univerity Body Image Education Eating Disorders Awareness and several Greek organizations such as Theta Chi. The collaboration within these organizations has supported events on campus such as the Out of the Darkness Walk and Mental Wealth Week activities.
In the future, Auburn Active Minds aims to continue the conversation about mental health and increase the amount of accessible resources for students. The organization hopes to bring new programs that other universities have piloted, such as extended training for faculty and staff, peer counseling services, non-clinical support groups and online mental health resources to help meet these goals.
“Our chapter has done a great job increasing awareness and pushing for an increase in mental health resources on campus,” said Johnson. “As a psychologist at Auburn University Student Counseling Services, I can attest to the fact that more students are seeking help for mental health disruptions, and they are primarily doing that because another student talked to them.”
The Active Minds Chapter of the Year award is about more than just the chapter, according to Johnson. He says it is about what all students, faculty, staff and organizations have done to promote mental health and well-being for everyone in the Auburn Family over the past three years.
Active Minds has bi-weekly meetings for students to discuss mental health topics and to get involved in event planning. Students, faculty and staff can also follow the organization on social media, @ActiveMindsAU, and join their page on AUinvolve to start receiving notifications.
For more information and future events, please visit the Active Minds Auburn page: https://auburn.collegiatelink.net/organization/ActiveMindsatAuburn
Written by Hayley Wright
Last modified: 12/08/2016