Department of Counseling
& Psychological Services
West Chester University
Julie Perone, Ph.D.
715 S. New Street
Commonwealth Hall Suite 60
West Chester, PA 19383
Active Minds at West Chester University reflects the mission of the national organization which is headquartered in Washington, D.C. The student-run group fosters mental health awareness and education on campus by providing information and resources as well as sponsoring special events throughout the year to educate the campus body about mental illness. Students involved in Active Minds take a particular interest in raising awareness among their peers, encouraging students to seek help as soon as it is necessary, and serving as a liaison between students and the mental health community.
Faculty Co-advisors: Dr. Claire Dente and Dr. Julie Perone
Officers for 2014 - 2015 Academic Year:
Meeting Time: During the Academic Year on Wednesdays at 1pm; location TBD in Sykes
Requirements to join: A personal interest in educating peers and working to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
“What’s with all the bags?”
You’ll overhear this a lot as students round a corner or exit a building and notice the Send Silence Packing display. 1,100 backpacks take up quite a bit of space and they certainly grab people's attention when they see them laid out from a distance.
Luckily, we’ve got a fantastic network of local Active Minds members and other volunteers posted around to tell people what exactly is “up with all the bags” and bring them into the display. At West Chester University we had a large group of passionate advocates available inform the rest of their community about this issue.
I think something that helps make Active Minds’ 332 (at the time of writing) chapters such a success are the fact that they focus on allowing the students to run the chapter and work with their peers. While they do work with advisors, counseling centers, the national office, and other groups on campus, the majority of what each chapter does is student run. I’ve consistently noticed how effective it is to have peer advocacy on these campuses. In a university setting, and even just young-adulthood in general, a lot of things come from the top down, and it's easy to tune a lot of that out. When your classmate, roommate, or just someone going through the same college life as you asks for your attention though, it feels relevant.
Many students are more open to listening to fellow students, and Send Silence Packing gives us an opportunity to see the power of a large group of fellow students saying “We’re here and we’d like to tell you about something we think is important for all of us.”
Throughout the day we saw thousands of West Chester students come through the display, and as momentum picked up towards the afternoon, something interesting happened. Facebook, texts, and old fashioned word-of-mouth messages were sending in waves and waves of other students to come see the display. Instead of students just happening to find the display, people were coming because the word was spreading and people cared about the message—and that's how positive changes spread.