Making Space for Mental Health at Your Community College

Sanora Anaya
Sanora Anaya

Picture this: It’s my first semester at Central New Mexico Community College (CNMCC), and I’m knee-deep in textbooks, navigating the maze of college life. Like many of us, I was eager to learn and grow but realized that the pressures of academia can sometimes take a toll on our mental health. Stress, self-doubt, and the challenges of balancing coursework with personal life started to affect not only me but also many of my classmates. Creating an Active Minds Chapter at my community college has allowed me to facilitate these conversations about mental health where they didn’t exist before.

One day, I received an email and announcement for a speaking event being hosted by CNMCC from my professor with the subject line, “Active Minds: Promoting Mental Wellness.” Intsarigued, I attended the meeting to learn more. What I found was a warm and empathetic community of students who were passionate about mental health and well-being. It was a space where we could openly discuss our stories and find solace in knowing we were not alone in our journey.

After attending the powerful event, but with no current Active Minds Chapter at CNMCC, we knew we had a chance to make a change and create a space for mental health. The need for a dedicated support system for mental health was crystal clear, and we decided to take the initiative.

Our journey was filled with passionate discussions, planning sessions, and an unwavering commitment to making a difference. Establishing the Active Minds chapter at CNMCC wasn’t just about starting another club on campus; it was about creating a safe haven for students. We wanted to be the beacon of light that says, “You are not alone, and it’s okay to seek help.” We reached out to the administration at my community college, fellow students, and mental health professionals in Albuquerque, NM, to gather support for our cause. The response was overwhelming. 

One of the most heartwarming moments was when we held our first event, a panel discussion on suicide awareness featuring professors, therapists, and students who had their own stories to tell. The turnout was incredible, and the stories shared that day left not a dry eye in the room. We realized our efforts resonated with the CNMCC community, and our mission was gaining momentum.

But Active Minds isn’t solely about organizing events and raising awareness. It’s also about creating a sense of belonging. We want every student to feel like they have a support network to turn to during their college journey. To achieve this, we offer group meetings focusing on stress management, mindfulness, and self-care — essential tools that will help us navigate the challenging waters of academia.

So, why did we invest this amount of time, energy, and dedication? We did it because we believe in the power of empathy, understanding, and community. We did it because we know that mental health is just as important as physical health. We did it because we wanted to bridge the gap between the struggles we face and the help that’s available.

Initiating the Active Minds chapter at CNMCC has been a heartwarming journey, one that has shown me the incredible strength and resilience of our fellow students. It’s a reminder that, together, we can make a real difference in the lives of those around us.

As I sit here and reflect on our journey, I’m filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be part of something so meaningful. If you’re reading this and considering starting a similar initiative at your college, I say go for it! And, if you are considering launching a Chapter at your community college, there are even unique funding opportunities available for you! Please reach out to the Senior Manager of Higher Education at Active Minds, Markie Pasternak (, to learn more. Together, we can create a brighter, more compassionate future where mental wellness is a priority for everyone.

Remember, you are never alone in your struggles, and there is always a community ready to embrace you with open arms. That’s the magic of Active Minds, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.