“We are people, we are forever evolving and if you don’t allow yourself to evolve then you’re going to be stuck in that rut. There’s no other way to feel alive than to put yourself out there, ” President of Active Minds, Adrian Gomez said.
Active Minds is a club on campus that aims to raise awareness on mental health issues and change the way students perceive mental health and mental illness.
With National Suicide Prevention Month coming up in September, Active Minds is planning events to help spread the word to students about mental health, mental illness and the resources available that provide help.
According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, in the year 2011 a total of 39,518 people committed suicide; that’s one person every 13.3 minutes.
“We’re trying to basically break down the negative stigma behind (mental health issues) and we’re trying to make it more known (and) more open. It’s basically a taboo subject … the less people speak about it the more people don’t want to talk about it and the more foreign it is,” Gomez said.
He says that for the first day of suicide prevention month, Active Minds is planning to have a booth on campus that will provide information and spread awareness.
“We’re just going to cover a lot of the issues that we have that people actually don’t know about or not even know that they can come to us,” Tifarrah Williams, Active Mind’s publicity representative said.
“Sometimes (students) don’t want to go to the health office or they don’t even want their own friends to know so that’s why Active Minds is student led, student run, you can actually just go to another student and it can just be a quick conversation. We’re there, we’re very much out there,” Williams said.
Active Minds also hopes on continuing its PostSecretU campaign, which is an anonymous mental health exercise where students are asked to vent their frustrations on postcards that are displayed in the club’s display case by the campus library. It also plans on going on its own time to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk, a walk that promotes awareness on mental illness.
Williams says that Active Minds has helped her through extremely tough times and hopes that students will be willing to attend the meetings.
She said that in the past she has attempted suicide several times. Getting support from the people around her, along with medication, has helped her get through that tough time. “Last semester I was homeless for the second half of the year, for the spring I was homeless I got kicked out of my house,” she said.
Depression is, according to Williams, a disabler. “Once you get stuck on it, you don’t keep on moving and keep doing things you’ll get stuck on; then self pity comes and when self pity comes not a lot of people are strong enough to actually fight it off.”
Despite having lived through homelessness, Williams remains optimistic and hopes that others will look forward to tomorrow. “Just take it one day at a time and if it’s overwhelming, call someone, make that call, don’t keep it to yourself,” she said.
Through her own experiences, Williams says that both interacting with people and having strong friendships with others are capable of helping those who are having a tough time.
Gomez stressed that mental illness can affect students indirectly, no matter if they have had a mental health issue in the past or not. He says sometimes family members or friends who are struggling with their mental health can affect the people around them.
Gomez added that students who are feeling stressed or depressed should try to be open to various activities that can help to take their mind of those feelings.
“Just being active is a way to forget about that that weighs you down. It just keeps you moving and keeps your mind off of it and it’s a way to ventilate the stress,” he said.
Gomez talks to strangers to create a connection to help de-stress. “It’s not a deep connection but it’s a quick connection to talk to somebody to say what you feel like you need to say and they hear it and they acknowledge it.
“Active Minds is set in a lot of tradition, but we also like to bring new things. We love being open to new ideas and new activities.”
According to Gomez, mental health is something everyone should maintain because if they don’t, it can deteriorate and become a mental health issue.
Active Minds has not had its first meeting of the semester, but Williams encourages all students no matter what major, to attend the meetings. Their meeting will be every first and third Tuesday of the month in room SS-212.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Phone Number for those in crisis: 1-800-273-8255
For more information on Active Minds, the organization: http://activeminds.org/
Facebook Page for the Cerritos College Active Minds Chapter: https://www.facebook.com/ActiveMindsCerritosCollege?fref=ts
NAMI Walk: National Alliance on Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=About_NAMI