Ursinus ‘Active Minds’ Honored as Chapter of the Month

Ursinus Campus Active Minds was named the January 2014 Chapter of the Month by the National Organization, Active Minds, which promotes mental health awareness, education and advocacy on college campuses.

The explanation about why Ursinus was chosen was highlighted on www.activeminds.org.

“This chapter has gone above and beyond in fulfilling Active Minds’ mission of education,” the site stated.

Active Minds Logo - no stigmaIn this regard, 10 to fifteen Ursinus students visit Parkhouse Providence Pointe twice a month. Parkhouse is a nursing home in Royersford where some of residents have Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and other mental disorders. The students spend one to two hours each visit getting to know, and simply being present, with these residents. The experience educates the students about mental illnesses that they knew less about, has built an on-going relationship with an outside organization, and also helps them give back to their community on behalf of their Active Minds Chapter.

“Some of the residents are much easier to speak with than one might expect,” explains senior Laura Drebushenko, Co-President of Active Minds who double majors in neuroscience and psychology. “It’s easy to forget sometimes that they are living with a mental disorder.  It’s great to be able to see this firsthand because it really helps to convey the message of our club.”

Active Minds at Ursinus provides information and resources regarding mental health and mental illness and encourages students to seek out help as soon as they need it, as well as serves as a liaison between students and the mental health community.

In addition to visiting Parkhouse, the group co-hosts an annual spring art show with another campus group, To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. Twenty percent of the sales from the show are donated to a non-profit chosen by Active Minds. Last year, the money went to Youth Outdoor Expedition, a group that serves 12 to 16 years old who have social, emotional, behavioral and mental health issues.

Active Minds also hosts guest speakers. This semester they have plans to bring in someone to talk on suicide prevention.

“Current events such as all the mass shootings, lead people to think all mental illness relates to violence,” explains Dr. Kneia DaCosta, Associate Professor of Psychology and faculty advisor for the group. “When in fact, mental illness is more likely to lead people to be more violent toward themselves. We want to make clear that anxiety and depression are something many people deal with and we want to normalize these problems. Above all else, we want students to know they can, and should, reach out for help.”