Active Minds opens chapter at Monroe
Northampton Community College (NCC) believes mental health and wellness should not be stigmatized. Imagine a club for students aimed at taking away that stigma and using events, meetings, speakers and other activities to de-stress, talk about wellness and make an impact on one’s own and others’ mental health.
Active Minds is a national organization with the purpose of raising awareness around the issue of mental health to help lower suicide rates and work more broadly with mental well-being.
Jen Bradley, professor of applied psychology at NCC, first learned about Active Minds during a THRIVE meeting on mental health and wellness. After some initial research, she was convinced that a chapter would be perfect for NCC. A club of this nature aims to make the topic more approachable for students, something she believes is necessary on campus.
Courtney Lutes, a fine arts major at NCC, showed interest in the mental well-being mission at NCC. She wanted to become a Peer Supporter at Monroe, which allows students to be a resource for their peers to talk, get help, or find tools during times of need. The goal of Peer Supporters is to give students ways to help others, including referring them to counseling at the college and area professionals to get further help if desired. Peer Supporters had previously been housed under Psi Beta, but when Lutes heard about Active Minds, she thought they would go hand in hand.
Lutes decided to look into the steps to get a chapter going with the help of Bradley. She learned about the support network for chapters. She attended video chat meetings with the national organization liaison who assists students in getting their chapters off the ground and maintaining the chapter. She orchestrated getting the 20 signatures needed from the NCC community in order to get the club started, and she exceeded that goal by 30 additional signatures! Finally, she went through all the steps to get the club approved, which was a success. Lutes worked hard to get the club started, and they will have their first chapter meeting in the start of the fall 2019 semester.
Now that Peer Supporters will fall under the umbrella of Active Minds, students who are Peer Supporters must also be a part of the Active Minds club. However, Active Minds members do not have to become Peer Supporters to take an active part in the club and attend meetings. Peer Supports go through two trainings, a QPR training for suicide prevention and an adult mental health first aide intensive training that teaches students about the major categories of mental illness and how to approach a situation with a person who may be having some of those symptoms. Both trainings are required to become a supporter.
The club is exclusive to Monroe right now, and they are set to meet Thursdays, during activity period in KAPP 109 at 11 a.m. They were at Rock the Block, this year’s semester start party at Monroe, giving students more information on the club. Bradley plans to be the advisor of the club, and Lutes hopes to fulfill the role of President—a position she certainly earned!
“I’m really optimistic that this will be a great thing for Monroe. It will open the doors to promote mental wellness that will go beyond events but actually be incorporated into the fabric of how we operate at the campus,” says Bradley.