Active Minds Chapter Recognized as Chapter of the Year at National Conference

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Active Minds Leaders

Since it started less than two years ago, Active Minds has built a presence on the Rockhurst University campus with programming and advocacy aimed at changing the culture and reducing the stigma that can exist around mental illness.

Through word-of-mouth, approximately 50 students showed up for the first meeting, before Active Minds was even an official organization. The group has continued to grow since.

This weekend, the Rockhurst University chapter of Active Minds was honored for its outstanding work, earning the Active Minds-Stephanie Becker Fund Chapter of the Year Award at the organization’s national conference.

“When my sister Tori explained what Active Minds was to me on that first day, I knew it was something special but I never could have imagined that we would be recognized for this award so soon,” said Mia Zanaboni, the group’s current president. “I believe that Active Minds has created a more comfortable and open space to talk about mental health on campus and we are overjoyed that the national organization recognized that.”

Through their programming and partnerships, Active Minds gave space for students to talk about the host of mental health challenges faced by students every day. Their “Be the Light” event presented personal testimonies from students about their own struggles. And they hosted the “Text Talk Act” event on campus with Creating Community Solutions KC, a community workshop aimed at teenagers on responding to mental illness powered by prompts sent by text message.

They also hosted national speakers like Colleen Coffey and John Tessitore of the JCK Foundation, presented targeted programming for issues like eating disorders, and produced materials to connect students to resources in the city and the University should they need help.

In other words, they’ve stayed busy. Organizers say Active Minds is different from a support group — each initiative is designed to help those with and those without mental illness understand the challenges better, and feel more comfortable asking for or offering help when needed. The group’s advisor, Risa Stein, Ph.D., professor of psychology, said she’s proud of the group for everything that they’ve accomplished in such a short time.

“It is immensely gratifying to see Active Minds student leaders passionate about this challenge and driven to create an inclusive and accepting community,” she said. “The fact that they have received such an overwhelming response from students, faculty, and staff along with recognition at the national level despite such a brief tenure on campus, clearly demonstrates that they have touched on an important facet of college life and opened a dialog to all students in a meaningful and welcoming fashion.”