In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 21, we share this message from Florida A&M University’s Active Minds chapter, a historically black university, to both celebrate and honor the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as shed light on the mental health advocacy being done on their campus.
Why I became involved in the FAMU chapter of Active Minds?
I became involved in Active Minds because I believe African Americans do not talk enough about mental health in our communities. Mental health is something that is usually put to the side and never talked about. Personally, I have struggled with mental health issues in the past before attending FAMU. After joining the organization, I found that having a place to share this struggle and the experience of bringing education to students at a predominantly black institution is very rewarding and important work.
Experiences with the organization:
We are a very active organization in which we seek to host at least one event a month. For example, last year we hosted an event in the student union where we played ‘Mental Health Statistics’ trivia and gave out prizes to students. In February, we partnered with a poetry organization called Voices Poetry Group and hosted, “Love On the Brain” an event to discuss the ups and downs of college relationships through song and poetry. In March, we partnered with the Divine Greek Organizations for a panel discussion on Men and Mental Health. In April, we participated in a march against sexual assault in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
This year we have many more exciting ideas we cannot wait to execute. We have a history of sold out events largely thankful to our partnerships with other organizations. This month, on January 23, we are partnering with student housing for an event called “Speedfriending.” It is a play on the popular social event, Speed Dating, but in this instance we are focusing on helping students overcome social anxiety and build healthy friendships in college.
Lastly, in addition to our monthly events, we often assist the university counseling center with mental health screening events such as National Stomp Out Stigma Day, in which the counselors provided depression screenings and psychoeducation about services. Additionally, we volunteered with Special Olympics and the Jason’s Foundation. We are busy and loving every moment.
Challenges and Feedback:
I am new to the executive board this year so I am not specifically aware of any challenges we have faced other than seeking funds to execute our ideas. For the most part, it appears our events are well received and appreciated as evidenced by our heavy student attendance. Our chapter reaches out to our school community to let them know that they are not alone and that there are people here for them if they need help. Evaluating our programs is something we could consider in the future.
We invite you to keep up with us by following our Instagram page @famuactiveminds.
The photo above is from our annual Stress Less Week in which we supplied snacks and positive affirmations to students studying in the library. (Top left to right: Bleu Bell, Duy Tran, Marnisha Smith,Tyrell Burnett, Kaiden Hope, Kelani Phelps. Lower: Caché Taylor, Amberrae House, Lucero Saldierna)