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Saint Mary’s launches chapter of Active Minds

| Thursday, November 12, 2015

Active Minds, a nation-wide organization that seeks to create conversations about mental health and provide a supportive community for college students, started a chapter on Saint Mary’s campus, senior Bridget Dedelow said.

According to the Active Minds website, the club was started by a college student who lost her brother to suicide. The website states that the club works to “combat the stigma of mental illness, encourage students who need help to seek it early and prevent future tragedies.”

Dedelow, who brought the club to Saint Mary’s with the help of associate professor of psychology Catherine Pittman, said she hopes the club will help better inform students about mental health issues.

“[We] want to make better the state of mental health and the state of people thinking about their own and others’ mental health as well,” Dedelow said.

Dedelow said interest in the club was high, especially because it offered resources that students weren’t finding otherwise.

“Basically, we … hope to create awareness around Saint Mary’s campus,” Dedlow said. “We’re aiming to advocate for more resources at Saint Mary’s and to bring people together and say, ‘You’re not alone in this — if you’re struggling with a mental illness at college, you’re not alone.’”

Dedelow said the club meets once a month to discuss fundraising and relevant topics, all the while providing a supportive environment for students.

“This club is very open and very accepting of all kinds of people,” Dedelow said. “We also tell people that even if they don’t deal with mental illness, they can still be in this club and make new friends and meet new people. We accept all kinds of people.

“We all get a space to talk about issues. We don’t talk over each other. It’s not as structured as raising your hand to talk, but you can talk openly without fear of judgement.”

Dedelow said the Saint Mary’s community can greatly benefit from the presence of an Active Minds chapter on campus.

“Even if you don’t join the club, it has a positive impact on the students,” Dedelow said. “You’ll hear about things that are going on, and everything we try to do in the club is positive.”

“Obviously, if the students are having a better time dealing with their mental health, the community will be strengthened,” she said. “Even if you’re not directly affected by it, you’re affected by it in some sort of way. By having the club on campus, we hope there will be an overall understanding that this is a safe place and it will make Saint Mary’s a safer place to be for some people.”

The club plans to bring in guest speakers to discuss their experiences with mental illnesses and to host informational panels next semester, Dedelow said. She said the club also plans to host calming events for Stress Less Week around finals week.

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About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

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