When St. John’s University junior Evi Carrillo was looking for a mental health awareness club or organization to join during her sophomore year, she was disappointed.
As the psychology student was digging through the University’s OrgSync, where all the campus organizations are listed, she could not find any organization pertaining to her interests. However, Carrillo didn’t stop looking. She decided to broaden her research and check what other universities had to offer on mental health awareness for students, and there was something that caught her attention.
“The recurring Active Minds just kept coming up,” Carrillo said.
Active Minds is a national nonprofit organization that allows students to speak about mental health in a safe environment. It is an organization found on campuses across the country with the intent to rule out the negative connotation surrounding mental health while raising awareness on the issue.
“We want to be advocates for mental health awareness as well as creating a comfortable, welcoming environment for people to come and just be part of something big,” Carrillo said. “We really want to change the stigma around mental health and I think the first thing we should do is to start by having a conversation about it.”
According to Carrillo, St. John’s used to have a chapter of Active Minds, but it was discontinued. Carrillo is now the president of the re-established chapter under the advisement of Ruth DeRosa, the associate director of the University’s Wellness Education and Prevention Services.
“We are reorganizing [Active Minds] through SGI and with the help of the department of wellness,” Carrillo said.
Carrillo said that when she emailed DeRosa about starting the organization towards the end of her sophomore year, the timing was perfect. According to her, the department had just received a suicide prevention grant.
Now, the money will also be used to assist Active Minds to “get it going,” as Carrillo said.
Vice president of the chapter, sophomore Ashli Wade, said that it is important to remember that although the organization is open to make people comfortable, create bonds and have conversations, they are not a support group.
“We are not here to just talk and then go home,” Wade said. “We want to actually bond and know each other.”
Active Minds members will meet every other Monday between 1:50-3:15 p.m. They will also be in the fall activities fair, the wellness fair and the suicide prevention walk happening on Sept. 17.
Both Carrillo and Wade express that the club is open to any student regardless of their major.
They said that although mental health issues are mainly talked about within the psychology major and its students, it affects everyone and knowledge on the subject is key.
“We want people to know that they’re not alone,” Wade said.