On Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29, Active Minds will host two events in honor of the program; Send Silence Packing. Active Minds is currently the only organization that allows students to help promote mental health awareness and issues on campus. “Active minds is a mental health awareness organization, and we’re one of the 300 chapters across the US and Canada of Active Minds Inc., which is a national organization,” current president of Active Minds, Katie Kirszenblat said. Active Minds Inc.’s goals are to change the conversation about mental and health, and to change the stigma around mental health issues.
“The purpose is to really bring students, the community and faculty members together to talk about mental health, and to break the stigma by talking about it and to raise awareness and educate students because it is something that effects everyone,” Kirszenblat said.
Active minds will be hosting the LivLive coffee house on April 28 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. in the Sykes common grounds.
“LivLive is a concert that they have around the counties and what we’re going to do is have local bands and local performers come and it is really to just spread awareness about mental health,” Active Mind’s newly elected president for the 2011-2012 year, Lauren Montemuro said. “[LivLive] is partnered with the Suicide Prevention Task Force. We’ll have raffle baskets and the money that we’ll raise will go to them. However the concert will be free and everyone can come out and support this cause.”
There will be informational pamphlets about suicide prevention and mental health at the LivLive concert. Students, faculty and staff can also find out more information about Active Minds and how to become more involved with the organization.
The LivLive concert was actually started by Susan Kelleher to honor her son who died by suicide.
“This will be the task force’s eleventh concert and this will be our second on campus,” Kirszenblat said.
The Mental Health Awareness Committee along with the Chester County Suicide Prevention Task Force and Active Minds are sponsoring the event.
Kirszenblat hopes that students will learn that mental health is not something to be afraid of, “it’s something that affects everyone.”
On April 29, Active Minds will also be hosting an event called Send Silence Packing. There will be a display of 1,100 backpacks around the academic quad (if it rains, the event will take place in the Sykes Ballrooms).
“It represents the 1,100 students in college who die each year by suicide. Some of those backpacks are donated by the family or friends of the person who passed away and they have the stories about those people (written on the backpacks) students are encouraged to read them and look at them,” Montemuro said. There will also be information and people to talk to for those who have lost someone to suicide.
“People will be able to talk about their experiences and not be afraid … it is something that people are hesitant to discuss,” Montemuro said.
“It’s a really moving display. The impression that it leaves, I think ,is a priceless visual … it just sounds like a number but when you see 1,100 backpacks out, it’s incredible and it’s emotional, but it gets people talking or just to realize that this actually does happen and it is okay to talk about it,” Kirszenblat said. “It does exist and it is not something to be afraid of .There is support and you are not alone.”
For more information, please contact Katie Kirszenblat at KK656270@wcupa.edu.
Angela Thomas is a fourth year student majoring in English. She can be reached at AT683005@wcupa.edu.