Trigger Warning: This article mentions suicide and mental illness.
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Allison Malmon was a freshman student at Penn State when her brother died by suicide. For years beforehand, her brother hid his depression and psychosis from his family and friends. He was only just receiving treatment when he ended his own life. In her junior year of college, Allison started active minds to combat the negative stigma behind mental health and encourage students to talk about mental health issues. In addition, she hoped to inspire others to seek help when they need it to lower suicide rates. Active Minds now has over 400 campus chapters and is established as a non-profit organization with National headquarters in Washington D.C. This national conference is a way for the executive board to get to know each other, as well as get to know other members of active minds in the country.
Active Minds at GU
Changing the conversation about mental health, that’s our motto. As an active member of the active minds executive board, this is something that I live by. This year, active minds is working harder than ever to raise awareness and combat the negative stigma behind mental health.
Each year, the executive board travels to Cranberry Pennsylvania for a suicide awareness walk. At the walk, over a hundred people attend in memory of loved ones and/or to show support. Active Minds at Gannon University is honored to lead the walk, and receives a donation from Cranberry Rotary as well! At the end of the event, butterflies are released in memory of loved ones.
Every fall, general members are invited along with the executive board to attend another suicide awareness walk at Presque Isle. This walk is titled, “The Out of the Darkness Walk”. While people check in, there are tables from various donations and/or to show support for suicide awareness. A door is placed near the lake for people to sign to list why they are walking, along with flowers to be released in the lake in memory of loved ones who have died by suicide. This event grow exponentially in attendance every year.
Active minds holds fundraisers periodically at sports games with baked goods to raise money for national conferences that we typically attend, as well as other potential events. Members of the executive board plan on attending the national conference this spring. We will take back with us what we learn and use it to strengthen Gannon’s chapter of active minds and mental health stigma on campus in general. Last year, Student Government association provided members of our executive board with funds to be able to attend the conference including lodging and gas costs.
Active minds also holds tables in Waldron Campus Center to educate students on our causes. We do our best to keep track of mental health awareness days and months every year for tabling. The Active Minds headquarters in Washington D.C. is gracious enough to send us pamphlets, handouts, bracelets, etc. with our logo and such on them to hand out to students. One aspect that we try to do is bring speakers to campus to share their journeys. On November 8th, we have a speaker named Tyler Titus coming to the Knight Club who appeals to college students about his journey and the importance of seeking help when you need it. He stated that counseling in college saved his life and that he travels often to tell his story. For more information about him, check out this link to his website:
What Can You Do?
- Stop by Waldron when active minds sets up tables with pamphlets to learn about mental illnesses and ways to cope with stress.
- Donate to active minds’ baked goods fundraisers.
- Look out for any active minds events (you don’t have to be in active minds to participate).
- Seek help from the counseling center in Harborview on campus when you are struggling.
- Look for the warning signs of suicide in family or friends such as withdraw from activities, lost of interest in things, isolation, frequently talking about death, making suicide threats, self-harm, and aggressiveness and irritability.
- Follow active minds on social media for updates!
Facebook: Active Minds at Gannon University