Bringing Active Minds to your campus or high school sounds as if it’s a really big task. It is quite the opposite.
There was an Active Minds chapter at Kent State many years ago. Unfortunately, this chapter started to drift away and was no longer active. Spring semester 2019, I was given the task to re-root the chapter here at Kent.
My initial thoughts were very frantic. I did not know where to start, and to register an organization on my campus we had to have a full executive board to begin the process. Eventually, we found a group of people to express interest for us to begin registration. Unlike my expectations, the actual process was quite simple. There was a lot of paperwork involved, but was very simple and did not take much time. And of course, there are always people you can ask for help along the way if need be. 🙂
After I took the initial steps of bringing Active Minds to my campus, the next challenge was recruitment.
Our first informational meeting, only 3 people attended, until one of our chapter supporters had some of his students attend the meeting for extra credit, which brought the number to 10.
This did not discourage me, rather it gave me more insight on how to market this wonderful organization to the students at Kent State. Our next meeting was titled “Pizza and Paint.” I had all attendees paint what they saw when they thought of the term “mental health.” We had 25 attendees with approximately 50 submissions! This artwork is now hung in our main library on campus. This event concluded our semester, at which point we only had maybe 50 or so emails on our mailing list.
Fast forward to this semester, we have almost 150 emails on that list! Our chapter has continued to grow exponentially. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have had our setbacks. For example, at our annual campus-wide club/organization recruitment event, someone thought we were a group that played Sudoku- no joke.
Again, my chapter and I take these setbacks and learn how to grow from them. This fall semester is where our chapter has really blossomed. We applied for many grants within our university for student involvement, which has allowed us to obtain promotional materials from Active Minds, and find more incentives to reach student involvement. Now, we have even added a Membership Recruiter onto our executive board due to the fact that so many people have expressed interest in our chapter, that we had to devote an entire new person to handle it!
Bringing Active Minds to my campus was definitely the best thing I could have done for myself and my community. It has given me an opportunity to make real change about the mental health climate on my campus. I have met many amazing, like-minded individuals from serving on the Student Advisory Committee for the National Active Minds, and within my own chapter. I have become connected with many important individuals on my campus due to my involvement. Active Minds has sincerely touched our community in a way that no other organization has; it’s given students a safe place where they can express their concerns and questions without fear of judgement, and learn about the resources we have on and off campus.
If you have the opportunity to bring a chapter into your community, by all means do not hesitate! Some advice I would give if you are starting this process is to not be overwhelmed. Take the process one step at a time and do not be bashful when asking for help. Once you are registered as a chapter, do not take the setbacks personally. You have already been so courageous to recognize these setbacks. Think of them more as markers, to distinguish what you have done, and what you plan to do to continue to succeed. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for money! There is always something out there you may be eligible to apply for to help your chapter out. Our chapter realized money was our largest setback, so we applied and received approximately $1,000 to assist our chapter. Be creative, have fun, and soak up every moment!