Students work to further understanding of mental illness and disorders
By Julie Hirshan | email@example.com
At club night this semester, there was a new table for Active Minds. The group works to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues present on campus.
“We started getting stories,” Kat Daniel, co-president of the group, said. Students came and talked about family members and personal experiences with mental illness.
“At the college level is when a lot of disorders come out,” Ashley Morelwicz, the club’s other co-president, said. This is one reason bringing awareness to mental health issues is important to the group.
According to the club’s constitution, the purpose of Active Minds is to “increase awareness among Flagler College students about issues of mental health, symptoms of mental illness, destigmatizing mental illness, and available resources in and around the Flagler College community.” The mission includes providing information about common problems such as depression, bipolar disorder and eating disorders. The group wants to link the school to the surrounding community’s resources.
“One of the biggest misconceptions with Active Minds is the fact that it is not in any way, shape or form a support group,” Daniel said. Morelwicz hopes the group can host events that will reach out to the greater St. Augustine community.
Daniel is a sociology major and Morelwicz is studying psychology. Both graduate in April. “We hope that somebody will be just as passionate to take over because it was a long process to get started,” Morelwicz said.
The group’s officers include secretary Megan Douaire, treasurer Brie Kwiatkowski and Jackie Werboff, research liaison and publicity chair.
Director of Student Activities Kristin Nelson helped start the group at the end of last year. After a recommendation by Mary Tinlin, dean of the counseling center, Nelson began the process of establishing Active Minds on campus. “My goal was to get students interested and start doing the club,” Nelson, the club’s adviser, said. Daniel and Morelwicz were part of a group of 20 students who signed up initially. They followed through with forming the club at Flagler as well as becoming a chapter of the national organization.
The group meets every other Wednesday from 8 to 9 p.m. in the Ringhaver Student Center room 202. The next meeting is March 25. To find out more about the organization, visit www.activeminds.org.
The response from club night was encouraging. “The way the interaction was, it was something that really solidified the fact that we were doing something that is needed,” Daniel said.