September 19, 2014
West Chester University's chapter of Active Minds has achieved five-star status from its national organization. Active Minds, Inc. -- thevoice of young adult mental health advocacy -- helps students change the perception about mental health on college campuses nationwide, with suicide as a main focus.
The 2013-2014 Active Minds officers responsible for achieving five-star status were Hannah Metzger, president and treasurer; Luke Beale vice president; Maria Blumberg secretary; Liz Chiocco, PR; and Makeba Cameron, liaison to the Social Work Department.
Chapters qualified for this distinction by submitting quarterly inventories in the following categories: relationships with their school and chapter advisor; collaborations and relationship building; interactions with the national office and national programming; membership and leadership events and activities.
Achieving five-star status means the WCU chapter is eligible for additional opportunities and honors, and receives first consideration for scholarships and grant opportunities from Active Minds, Inc.
Among the activities from last year that earned the WCU chapter their status were a LivLive concert to raise funds and awareness about suicide; a Post Secret event that allowed students to write down and share their problems anonymously; and Stress-Less week, before each semester's finals, in which the chapter provided students with "child's play" activities to encourage them to de-stress. The chapter plans to repeat these events this year.
West Chester's Active Minds chapter has already assisted the Counseling Center with Depression Screening Day (Sept. 9), notes Metzger. That event preceded a month-long awareness campaign from Active Minds Inc., "Silence Hurts Us All," which began Sept. 10. Suicide Prevention Month concludes Oct. 6, National Day Without Stigma, which refers to the misconceptions about mental health disorders.
"I'm very grateful that people are finally coming to realize how important mental health awareness is and that it’s not a conversation that needs to be silenced," says Metzger, who remains president of Active Minds this year. "People need to be comfortable discussing these issues and helping their peers when they're struggling. If we all could make little changes toward being more understanding of the severity of mental health issues, I think the world could be a much happier and accepting place!"
Joining her on the 2014-15 Active Minds board are Liz Chiocco, vice president; Maria Blumberg, secretary; Li Paulausky, treasurer; and co-PR chairs Amy Cander and Craig Hoefling. Faculty co-advisors are Claire Dente and Dr. Julie Perone.
"It's fitting that Active Minds' officers and members should be recognized for all of their hard work and dedication to educating others about mental health and working collectively to effectively ‘Stomp Out the Stigma," said Perone. A licensed psychologist, she is chair of the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services. Dente, a Pennsylvania licensed clinical social worker, teaches undergraduate social work.
Next, WCU's Active Minds group will participate in the "Love your Body" Fair Oct. 8, organized by the Office of Wellness Promotion and the Women’s Center.
The chapter will be recognized at the Active Minds national conference in November at the University of Maryland College Park.
This good news comes on the heels of the chapter’s recognition by CareLink as "Educator of the Year." CareLink assists Delaware Valley individuals who need specialized support to achieve wellness and recovery, among other conditions.