BY VIRGINIA SANTILLANES
The COD Active Minds Club members were very active during the Spring 2017 semester at College of the Desert. The club is ending the semester on a high note and its members plan to continue working in the Fall 2017 semester pursuing their purpose of helping students find the resources needed for mental health issues.
Active Minds is an organization working to utilize the student voice to change the conversation about mental health on college campuses. According to research, nearly 30 percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 24 have diagnosable forms of mental illness. Active Minds develops and supports chapters of student-run mental health awareness, education and advocacy groups on campuses.
The organization works to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues, provide information and resources regarding mental health and mental illness. They also encourage students to seek help as soon as possible and serve as a liaison between students and the mental health community.
Through campus-wide events and national programs, Active Minds aims to remove the stigma that surrounds mental health issues and strives to create a comfortable environment for an open conversation about mental health issues on campuses throughout North America.
Jorge M. Rivera Jr., president of COD’s Active Minds Club shared how he got involved, “I heard from a classmate about the club during an announcement made in my psychology class for members to join,” said Rivera.
Rivera decided to join based on his own personal experience. “I took interest when my close friend had committed suicide and spoke with other friends about it. They all agreed that he had something going on, but nobody knew what to do to help him. This is why this club is so important,” said Rivera.
Rivera describes his relationships with the club members as close friends and family. “They are the backbone because without them I’m nothing. I may be president, but I go off of what they say and their input is valuable to me. They are so eager to be active in body to do various things to spread the word such as social media and events. My Active Minds officers are the best and I thank them.”
Rivera wants to reach those in the general audience to help bring an end to the stigma of mental health issues. In past years the club had one event per semester. This spring the Active Minds Club had four events breaking a new record.
“It resonated with me deeply and personally with my friend that committed suicide. So that when I reach out for those in suicide prevention that is when I really feel that I’m inspiring or making a change. I’m trying to make a change even if it is just for one. I’m doing it for him,” Jorge explained.
The Active Minds Club has had various speakers come from Coachella Valley Sexual Assault Services. The club participated in many events over the semester during Eating Disorder Week, Be Heroic Don’t Be Silent, Mental Health Week and Take Back the Night, where a group of 20 people gathered at the Palm Desert Civic Park and then marched across the street to COD to bring awareness and protect women against rape.
One of Rivera’s goals is to recruit more members, “I look forward to a new semester for new members. If you’re coming in the fall be ready! We will be talking about our club and getting ready for club rush which is when we present ourselves with all the other clubs trying to recruit.”
“It is not good to remain silent,” Rivera said. He emphasizes to be active and check up on family members or peers if they begin to act strange or different.
For more information, check out their Facebook page, Active Minds at College of the Desert.