Active Minds advocates against stigma

Bianca Martinez

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The Active Minds club has had a presence on campus and ever since has been advocating for the awareness of mental illness, which afflicts one in every four adults, according to a statistic compiled by the Active Minds organization.

Active Minds host on-campus events and exhibits such as the White House Healthy Challenge, which occurred Monday, Jan. 9, and the Send Silence Packing exhibit, which occurred in late September 2016.

The Active Minds club on Cerritos campus is just a small chapter of a larger organization which goes under the same moniker as the club.

The goal of both the Active minds club and organization is to raise awareness about mental health disorders, especially among college students, erase stigma about living with a mental disorder and assist students in getting the help and care they need to diagnose, treat and cope with their mental state.

Vice President for the Active Minds Cerritos chapter, Georgette Farias, states the importance of mental health advocacy and how Active Minds participates in doing so, “Many people view mental illness in a negative light. They view people with a mental illness as weak or lazy. They are unaware that it is about chemical imbalances in the brain, sometimes it’s hereditary, sometimes it is uncontrollable. There is no shame in having a mental illness. ‘Depression is a flaw in chemistry not in character’.

“We aim to raise awareness of this and educate our peers. When the Send Silence Packing event was brought to Cerritos it was an eye opener to many students of the facts on student suicide.”

The club takes special initiative in ensuring that college students get the necessary help and acceptance they need in order to receive the proper treatment for their mental illness.

Steven La Vigne, Active Minds advisor for the Cerritos College chapter, explains the club’s participation with the White House Healthy Challenge and the reason why this event is important and relatable to college students.

He said, “The significance of the event is that health care coverage helps provide Prevention and Early Prevention opportunities to our most valued resource, our students. Our desire is to outreach by sharing health care information options along with provide enrollment opportunities to uninsured individuals on our college campus, and to the communities we serve.”

La Vigne goes on, “This event is important because one in five young people in the United States don’t have health insurance necessitating the need to outreach, inform and provide enrollment opportunities to our students. Thus, there is an opportunity for our students to benefit from this event by learning about their health care options while also being provided on-campus enrollment opportunities.”

1 in 4 college students are affected by some variation of mental illness, a statistic which reveals that each college student is either directly or indirectly affected by a mental disorder, according to both Farias and the Active Minds organization.

Active Minds club President Rebecca Johnson shares some important statistics pertaining to the suicide rate of those with an untreated mental disorder, “Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, claiming the lives of 1,100 students each year. More than half of college students have had suicidal thoughts and 1 in 10 students seriously consider attempting suicide. Half of students who have suicidal thoughts never seek counseling or treatment. 80-90% of college students who die by suicide were not receiving help from their college counseling centers.”