by Ricky Lam–
With more counts of depression and suicide looming across universities, a group of students remains resilient in starting a conversation on the issue.
Active Minds is a nonprofit organization aimed at spreading mental health awareness across all college campuses. With the chapter at Virginia Tech, the organization hopes to create a comfortable environment for students to speak openly about mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, 41.6 percent of students struggle with anxiety while 36.4 percent struggle with depression. Emily Wills, the president of Active Minds, hopes to reduce the percentages by rectifying issues present on the Tech campus.
“Everybody knows that the counseling center is full and they’re trying to work on that, but it’s just not fast enough. You go saying you need help and your first appointment is a month out. It’s just not the level of care that we really need on this campus,” Wills said.
“Suicide is kind of shunned. Everyone thinks that if you talk about it then it’ll increase it more, but really, hiding it doesn’t help at all,” Wills said.
On April 19, Active Minds hosted a benefit concert to raise money and bring “Send Silence Packing” to campus. Project manager, Siddhi Kodolikar, led the event with a small team and managed to accumulate $800 to go towards Active Minds’ efforts.
“It is a tour that comes and sets up backpacks in an area and it symbolizes the amount of college student suicides in a year. It’s kind of a big display to show, ‘hey it’s okay to talk about this. It’s not just something we hear about in the news every once in a while,’” Kodolikar said.
By providing information to students about other resources they can access and hosting other events to promote a stress-free environment, the organization hopes to end the mental health stigma and tell students in need that they see them and hear them.