Student Group Promotes Mental Health Awareness Through a T-Shirt Campaign

Amanda Golden

Last Thursday and Friday, March 22 and 23, Active Minds, a student group on campus, hosted t-shirt decorating sessions to raise aware-ness for mental health issues. The group, which was started and is run by four seniors on campus, is based off the national group whose mis-sion is to use students to change the conversation about mental health, targeting college campuses specifi-cally. The Active Minds t-shirt cam-paign is a project designed to raise awareness of mental health issues.

“I started Active Minds two years ago with three of my friends, seniors Caroline Komanecky, Lau-ren Richardson and Cassie Law-son, and [I] serve as president,” senior Suzanne Collier said. “It is a national organization whose mis-sion is to spread awareness about mental health issues on college campuses and reduce the stigma surrounding them.”

When asked why she decided to bring this organization’s message to campus, Collier explained that she felt it would be well received by both students and faculty.

“We thought that there was a definite need for this type of club at Colgate,” Collier said. “Over the years we have had several events in-cluding speakers, movie screenings, stomp out stigma days, eating disor-der awareness week, freshmen tran-sition events and a seasonal affective disorder event last week.”

The t-shirt decorating sessions were opportunities for students to get involved not just with the student group but also to become aware of the issues the group works to represent.

“The idea was that people could stop by the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) last week. We had blank t-shirts and decorating sup-plies so that people could make t-shirts in support of mental illness,” Collier said. “Some of the ones I saw so far have been statistics, such as ‘one in four college students has a diagnosable mental illness,’ phrases such as ‘stomp out stigma’ or ‘change the conversation about mental health’ or [are] in support or memory of people who have struggled with mental illness or even taken their own lives.”

Collier explained that the group plans to use the decorat-ed shirts to create a kind of an awareness exhibit.

“We are going to make a display out of the t-shirts in the Coop and leave it up for the week,” Collier said. “The hope is that as people pass by the display, they will stop to read what is written on the shirts and hopefully the shirts will start conversations among people who do not usually discuss the impor-tance of mental health or realize the prevalence of mental illness on Colgate’s campus. We want to re-duce the stigma surrounding men-tal illness so that people can feel comfortable discussing it, just like they would if they were sick with the flu.”

The decorating events as well as the group’s presence on campus have been well received.

“Everyone has been really supportive,” Collier said. “A lot of people came by to make shirts, so hopefully that will start conversations.”

One of the group’s student members is a strong advocate for its cause and the t-shirt campaign.

“I joined the group at the be-ginning of the year and I’ve re-ally enjoyed it,” first-year Claire Streeter said. “It’s a nice group of people. They are good at coming up with creative ideas for events and getting all the members in-volved. I’m definitely going to continue on with the group over the next three years.”

Contact Amanda Golden at [email protected].