Active Minds seeks to support AU community with mental health dialogue and resources
As students return to campus, club leaders hope to build upon existing mental health services
Active Minds, a club focused on providing mental health support to students, is bringing its mission to American University this fall.
Active Minds at AU, is built upon the idea of providing mental health support to students. Although the international organization has been active for years, this is the first time in at least four years that the University has an active chapter.
“I was looking for a summer internship, as we all are, and came across Active Minds and I started reading about the organization,” said senior Sara Kasler, the founder of AU Active Minds. “And, as I was reading about it, I was like this just feels like the kind of thing that people at AU would be into.”
Although Kasler is looking forward to feedback from other students on what the group should do, she has a few initial priorities. Kasler said she wants to make partnerships with other organizations a priority, including the Counseling Center, in part to improve the services provided to students.
“You hear a lot of critiques about [the Counseling Center] and you know, most of them are pretty valid,” Kasler said.
Kasler said that the most common grievances she hears from students have to do with accessibility and resources. For example, students sometimes wait as long as a month until they can get an appointment at the Counseling Center, she said.
Kasler said she hopes that Active Minds can provide students with resources to help with time sensitive issues in the interim. She also believes that there is space for the club to work independently from other groups.
“We’ve talked about making sure that what we’re doing is relevant,” Kasler said. This includes doing things such as encouraging self-care during exams and educating students on suicide prevention, she said.
As part of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, the Active Minds national organization provided an activity kit to chapters for education and awareness, which is one of the programs Kasler plans on bringing to AU. She said she also plans to bring speakers to campus that can speak to college students on mental health issues.
By providing these resources, Kasler said she hopes to make mental health an issue that is easier to talk about with friends in an effective way.
Still, Kasler hopes that the organization doesn’t lose sight of its original goal of helping people. Moving forward, she said she’ll make it a priority to solicit feedback from those in and outside the chapter to ensure that a program that is both wanted and needed is executed.
“[Active Minds is] something that a lot of people would be interested in, but there are a lot of different directions we can go in,” Kasler said. “I don’t want to just pick a focus and hope that that's what everyone else wants to focus on, I wanna gauge where other people are at and move from there.”