By Kimberly Bogers
Pensacola State College has many different clubs and committees on their various campuses, one of them being the PSC chapter of Active Minds on the Pensacola and Milton campus.
Active Minds is a nationwide organization that aims to raise awareness on college campuses about mental health.
The current president of the PSC chapter is Pablo Campos, and he is passionate about teaching college students about mental health.
“I became the president of our Active Minds chapter because I am very passionate about mental health and raising awareness to advocate for those in need,” said Campos. “I know how hard it can be to battle mental illness and how alone people suffering from it can sometimes feel, and that helps drive my passion.”
Though the Active Minds chapter at PSC is new, Active Minds as an organization has been advocating for young adults’ mental health since 2003 and has made many appearances in the news nationwide.
PSC’s Active Minds chapter started up last fall and has done quite a bit for the campus and community since then.
In partnership with Student Activities, Student Resource Center for ADA Services, and Pensacola State C.A.R.E.S., Active Minds sponsored “Day Without Stigma.” Students took pictures holding dry erase boards with positive messages, and these pictures were later used as part of a backpack that joined the “Send Silence Packing” tour. The photos will travel the country as part of the display and represent PSC.
Also in partnership with Student Activities and Pensacola State C.A.R.E.S., the club hosted the outdoor display “Send Silence Packing” during the Fall 2014 semester, which was an outdoor display of 1,100 backpacks to represent the national statistic of 1,100 college-aged students who die by suicide each year.
The club partnered again with Student Activities and Pensacola State C.A.R.E.S. to host a number of events during “Stress Less Week” (the week prior to finals week) that promoted emotional well-being (board games in building 5, bio-feedback games in building 17, etc.).
In partnership with the PSC Student Veteran Association, the club hosted a veteran Thanksgiving luncheon and talk for veteran students in building 5 last November. The speaker taught veterans a relaxation technique called “Zentangle”.
The PSC chapter of Active Minds had both of the club’s advisors and two students (Campos being one of them) attend the national convention for Active Minds at the University of Maryland last year, where they participated in several workshops on programming and best practices for their chapter.
This April the club is going to clean the Sensory Complex at Westgate, and it will also host another “Stress Less Week” the week prior to finals.
Dr. Elizabeth Moseley, one of the advisors for the club, wants students across campus to know that any of them can join if they are interested in learning more about mental health.
“I would like students to know that Active Minds is open to everyone who is interested in promoting advocacy and education about mental health. It is not a support group, and it is not only for students majoring in health professions or the social sciences,” Moseley said.
Club advisor Tina Likovetz also shared what she would like students to know about Active Minds.
“Active Minds is not your average club. It is a national organization that is making a huge impact for mental health wellness and awareness. This club is not a support group and does not offer counseling. The club is open to all PSC students who meet the requirements to participate in clubs (information can be found in the college catalog). Both the University of West Florida and the University of South Alabama have newly developed chapters, so students who transfer could continue participating in the same national organization,” she said.
Campos feels that there is a stigma surrounding mental health that Active Minds could help change.
“Our goal is to raise awareness of mental illness among college students and by doing so, advocate for the 1 in 4 college students that suffer from a diagnosable and treatable mental illness. We find that though it is a topic most people avoid, a taboo of sorts, that once we start the conversation, many can relate or identify with our cause in some way or another.”
Since the PSC chapter of Active Minds is relatively new, the number of members is still small. However, as Likovetz points out, the amount of members has doubled since last semester.
“The club currently has an executive board that consists of four members,” said Likovetz. “The total active membership, members that attend meetings and participate in events, is 8. Last semester, the first semester on campus, we averaged 3-4 active students.”
The PSC Active Minds club meets on the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 3 p.m., in building 14, room 1462 on the Pensacola campus and room 4411 on the Milton campus. The club holds a discussion group on the 4th Wednesday of the month at 3 p.m. in building 17, room 1707 on the Pensacola campus. There are also eBoard meetings on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month on the Pensacola campus (building 14, room 1462).
If you are interested in becoming a member of Active Minds but have a schedule that interferes with the meeting time, you can still attend meetings; not in person, but via the Internet.
The club recently started using Google Hangouts to connect members to meetings and discussions even when they are not able to make it out to the campus.
Moseley believes that the Google Hangouts will prove to be beneficial for the club.
“We are very excited about the use of Google Hangout to connect the member meetings and discussions with video links between campuses. This technology also allows individuals to log into the Hangout and follow the conversation from home. So far we have had a few trials using the video link, and we are looking forward to using it more.”
Campos has similar thoughts about the club’s new usage of technology.
“(It) helps us include all campuses and have a wider reach. Its very simple and highly effective, people can even attend from home if they’d like and can contribute as if they were in the room with us. Its definitely a breakthrough that helps those that want to attend on other campuses be a part of the movement whether its from a different campus, a computer at home or even their smartphone.”
If you would like to learn more about Active Minds, visit their website: www.activeminds.org. If you would like to stay up to date on the PSC chapter of Active Minds, like their Facebook page: Active Minds at Pensacola State College.