After struggling with anxiety and depressive episodes throughout 2020, Emma Lamoreaux found a sense of solidarity and community in Temple University’s chapter of Active Minds.
“I realized how important clubs like [Active Minds] were,” said Lamoreaux, a sophomore health information management major and E-board member of Temple’s Active Minds chapter. “I decided that I needed to be an active member in this club and help people who felt the same way I did last year.”
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Last week, Temple’s Wellness Resource Center hosted the Shed Some Light event at the Bell Tower for the fourth consecutive year as a part of their Suicide Prevention Week program. The event took place from Sept. 6 through Sept. 10 and promoted awareness of on-campus mental health resources.
On-campus organizations like Tuttleman Counseling Services, Disability Resources and Services and Active Minds set up information tables in Lenfest Circle for students to speak with representatives to learn about their programs and services.
The Wellness Resource Center also encouraged students to participate virtually by submitting inspirational messages to BeWellTU’s Instagram page.
The Wellness Resource Center promoted a multi-faceted approach to wellness and suicide prevention at the event which included alcohol and drug education, interpersonal violence prevention, mental well being and sexual health, said Janie Egan, mental well-being program coordinator at the center.
Temple’s chapter of Active Minds, a mental health advocacy group that hosts stress-relief activities like Paint and Scoop, an event where students paint pictures and eat ice cream. They also hold student-led discussions about mental health, and share tips on how to hold constructive conversations about suicide on their social media.
Egan believes the university is responsible for providing a variety of services to support mental and physical health for students to find success on campus, she said.
“We know that students are whole people, and that well-being really impacts academic performance and success,” Egan said.
Suicide prevention begins with having conversations about mental health and events like Shed Some Light play an important role in increasing the visibility of students struggling with their mental health, said Calli Hagen, a senior social work major and mental well-being program assistant.
“We need to continually make sure that students know what’s available to them,” Hagen said. “[If] we’re not out here promoting them, they’re not really going to know where they can go or what they can do.”
Since its formation in August 2013, Temple’s Active Minds chapter has grown to more than 550 members on OwlConnect and serves as a safe and positive space for students to decompress and talk to peers, said Mia Stavarski, a senior art therapy major and president of Active Minds.
“A lot of times, we don’t see the people who are suffering,” Stavarski said. “Mental illness is an invisible illness. You can cover it up as much as you want, but nothing’s gonna take away that pain, nothing’s gonna take away these negative thoughts.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While honoring Suicide Prevention Month is important, Active Minds and Temple’s Wellness Resource Center will continue to provide resources to those who need them, because on-campus mental health resources must promote well-being and fight stigma year-round, Egan said.
“It’s not just a September effort, but we hope that offering things that coincide with the awareness weeks provides some visibility to things that are happening,” Egan said.