ASU’s Active Minds aims to bring mental health discussion to the table

The ASU chapter encourages students to seek mental health help through campus services or conversations with loved ones

Discussing topics of mental health can be a scary to some, but an ASU club is working to encourage college students to push their hesitations aside and be more open about their struggles. 

Active Minds, which is a national nonprofit organization with campus chapters at schools like ASU, aims to destigmatize mental health discussion, offer supportive communities to students suffering from mental illnesses and save lives, according to its national website.

“The more people talk about (mental health) and the more comfortable people are talking about it, the more they’ll actually reach out and get the help they need,” said Claudio Garcia, an ASU senior studying international letters and cultures and vice president of the University's chapter of Active Minds.

About 39 percent of college students who will experience mental health struggles in college, according to Active Minds' national website. Two-thirds of students suffering from anxiety and depression do not seek mental health treatment.

ASU’s Active Minds chapter is hosting a mental health conference in February to help combat this problem.

The event will be held on Feb. 26 in the Student Pavillion and is completely free and open to the public, as all Active Minds events are. 

The event will feature six speakers, including mental health advocate and author Erin Callinan. 

Callinan was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 17 years old. She said she spent the bulk of her twenties, including her college years, learning how to cope with her mental illness. 

Now, at 34, she is promoting mental health conversations between students.

“I was really committed to learning how to take care of my mental illness as I would a physical illness,” Callinan said. 

Callinan said she was excited to attend the ASU chapter's event because she hopes to encourage students to overcome their mental illnesses in the same way.

The ASU chapter hopes to provide a free and open place to talk about difficult topics and lend support to those who may be struggling. 

The club meets every Wednesday and membership is open to all students, whether they have a mental illness, know someone with one or just need a safe space to vent.

“We are all linked in different ways,” said Stephanie Cahill, the president of ASU's Active Minds chapter and a junior majoring in psychology.

“We’re very open and we hope that the ASU community can come together and support us in what we do.” 

Another event that the club hopes the ASU community will support is the One More Step Recovery Walk and Health Expo on Feb. 9. The event is the club's first partnership with Recovery Rising, a student organization that supports recovering addicts.

Read more: ASU's Recovery Rising provides support for students with past addictions

The walk will begin on the Old Main Lawn and take students around campus, pointing out important mental health resources along the way. 

"So where the health services building is, where the Dean of Students is and within each category that we go through we’re going to talk a little more about it," Cahill said. "It’s bringing people unified together to promote positive mental health and recovery."

In doing so, both organizations hope to erase the stigma of reaching out for help. 

Cahill said she encourages students to reach out to friends and family for support if they are struggling with their mental wellness. 

“That’s why we have weekly meetings," Cahill said. "People can come in and know that for that one hour on Wednesdays ... they can talk to us and they can have a friend, that we’re a safe spot." 

Active Minds will also be hosting an art installation called "Send Silence Packing" on March 25 to raise awareness for suicide prevention. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @walker_writes on Twitter. 

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