• By Lauren Reeves

Active Minds spreads awareness of mental illness

Over the last two years, there has been an increasing push to encourage people to talk more about mental health and share their stories with others. The Active Minds club at Minot State University started before this push was popular by helping students talk about mental health and helping those who were struggling mentally.

Launched at MSU in 2016, the club is part of a nationwide nonprofit organization that promotes mental health and suicide prevention through college chapters.

Active Minds was started by former University of Pennsylvania student Alison Malmon after her brother, who suffered from mental illness, committed suicide 20 years ago. Malmon felt that there was a lack of discussion about mental health on campuses and decided to start a club at her school to help other students struggling with mental health. Since the start, the club grew and became a nationwide organization in 2003. Over the years, the organization has hosted events to help students become more active about mental health and suicide prevention throughout the country. The Active Minds club at MSU strives to advocate for mental health and help reach those who are struggling with mental illnesses and need help.

“We strive to provide information on how to start ‘awkward’ conversations with someone we may be concerned about or with someone when we’re concerned about ourselves,” said Anastassia Hofer, a junior studying social work and co-president of Minot State’s club. “We want to end the silence and stigma around mental health and suicide. Our mottos are: ‘Your voice is your power;’ ‘Here for you;’ ‘It’s OK to not be OK;’ and ‘The world needs you here.’”

Along with Hofer, senior Taryn Schmit, who is studying social work, is also co-president and has been a part of the club since it started four years ago. The club’s secretary is Emilee Duplin, a sophomore studying communication sciences and disorders, and its fundraising leader is Stetson Pederson, a fifth-year senior who is studying physical education and elementary education. Helping advise the club are POWER Center academic coaches Paul Stroklund and Johnna Torr.

Throughout the school year, Active Minds hosts a number of events, such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Dark Walk and Speakout, an event where students can share their mental health stories and meet on-campus resources such as counselors and Wellness Center personnel, as well as having guest speakers once a year.

“If we can schedule a guest speaker, we try to make the event available to all campus and community members, not just club members,” said Hofer.

Currently, the club is having meetings over video calls and communicating through email; however, Hofer said anyone who wants to join can contact the club at activeminds@minotstateu.edu or visit activeminds.org for more information about the organization. Anyone can join and members must attend a minimum of one meeting and one event each semester. Hofer is unsure about any events happening this semester; however, she said that students can sign up to receive notices for meeting minutes and potential events.

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