The Emerson chapter of Active Minds, an organization raising awareness of mental health issues, recently participated in a fundraiser walk for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention at Artesani Park in Boston. In this photo: Camra Godwin '16, Megan Gringas '16, Maria DiPasquale '16, Ashley Cunningham '16, Jenna Montefiore '17, Nick Giordano '16, Elise Harrison, director of Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services, Caitlin Bailey '16, David Kumar '17, and Jennifer Austin '17. (Courtesy Photo)
The Emerson College chapter of Active Minds, a national organization whose mission is to erase mental health stigma, is offering students a chance to dine with President Lee Pelton on Thursday, November 20.
“We picked President Pelton because he’s the most loveable figure across the College,” said Ashley Cunningham ’15, president of the Active Minds chapter. “He’s the face of Emerson, and this event shows Emerson cares about mental health education and awareness.”
About 17 students are members of the Emerson Active Minds chapter, which is seeking to obtain recognition as an official student organization from student government.
Cunningham said the group has been planning the Pelton dinner since the beginning of the semester.
“We’re fighting a 600-pound beast of stigma,” she said. “The greatest thing college campuses can do is keep chipping away at that beast.”
Students who make a $10 contribution on the Emerson Active Minds donation page are entered into a raffle to win two tickets to dine with Pelton at his Beacon Hill home on November 20. Five winners will be selected, meaning 10 people in all are expected to attend. (The deadline to enter is November 13.)
The organization’s primary goal is to facilitate dialogue around mental health issues.
“For the past few centuries, our society has built stigma around speaking up about mental health,” Cunningham said. “One of the best things that can happen on college campuses is to have a very prominent presence of mental health advocacy and awareness.”
Members of the Emerson chapter of Active Minds: Camra Godwin '16, Caitlin Bailey '16, Nick Giordano '16, Maria DiPasquale '16, and Ashley Cunningham '16. (Courtesy Photo)
“What silences students is the shame of talking about your mental health concerns,” she said.
Cunningham said she would like to see faculty at college campuses nationwide become more able to identify mental health symptoms. “Many symptoms of mental health arrive in early adulthood,” she said.
Cunningham said Emerson has already made strides in addressing concerns, particularly with resident assistant training, but hopes the dinner with Pelton will open more dialogue.
“The administration is not always aware of student concerns,” Cunningham said, “so this dinner can really facilitate a conversation that isn’t just a 10-minute conversation with a faculty member during office hours.”
Group meetings are held every Thursday at 7:00 pm in Room 417 of the Walker Building. New members are welcome.