Active Minds Students Spark a Statewide Policy Movement in California

3 min

Laura Horne
Laura Horne

Beginning July 1, 2019, all public, charter, and private schools in California will be required to print a crisis number for suicide prevention on student identification cards for grades seven through college thanks to California Senate Bill 972, passed earlier this month.

This achievement is truly monumental considering that suicide is the second leading cause of death among this age group. Thanks to this bill, every middle school, high school, and college student will have easy access to a crisis number when they need it.

The bill was inspired by a movement that began with Active Minds students as early as 2012. Back then, Active Minds students Abby de la Rosa and Sarah Liming at the University of Dayton were the first students to successfully petition campus administrators to print a crisis call line on the back of all student identification cards, impacting more than 10,000 students.

The students recognized that we can’t often foresee a scary situation; often students need access to help outside of standard office hours of 9am to 5pm. It’s also when they need it most that they may not have the time to focus to reach for a reputable number to call after hours. Student identification card initiatives are important; by putting crisis numbers there, we can remove the guesswork and save lives.

That’s why in 2014, Active Minds established Transform Your Campus, the umbrella moniker for free, specialized training and technical assistance available to students from Active Minds staff and an online, self-guided toolkit for conducting effective policy change. Based on the success of de la Rosa, Liming, and other student advocates, Active Minds created the first featured campaign to support students with adding the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Crisis Text Line to student identification cards.

Since then, more than 450 campuses have participated in Transform Your Campus. At least 58 of the campuses have so far successfully changed their policies and/or systems as a result of the program, at least 22 of which included changes to student identification cards in the last three years. In total, these changes impact approximately 892,960 students enrolled on their campuses.

Active Minds is so grateful to lawmakers in California for prioritizing the mental health and safety of young adults, and we hope to see more states adopt similar guidelines. For more information about the power of the student voice for policy reform, please see our position statement here. For more information about how to lead policy/systems change on your own campus, please check out Transform Your Campus or contact us at transform@activeminds.org.

Here’s a list of campuses that have voluntarily changed their IDs, which include at least:

  • Bridgewater College
  • California State University, Fullerton
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Jefferson College
  • Luther College
  • Oregon State University
  • Rockhurst University
  • Southern Connecticut State University
  • Stockton University
  • SUNY Old Westbury
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of Dayton
  • University of Michigan, Dearborn
  • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Rochester
  • University of South Alabama
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Toledo