Actively Raising Awareness

Putting an end to mental health stigmas

Mental health is a topic not often talked openly about, and students who suffer from mental health issues and illnesses tend to isolate themselves, seldom seeking support. A group at Sam Houston State University strives to raise awareness about mental health disorders and encourages students to seek assistance or advice putting an end to those trends. 

Founded in 2013, the SHSU Active Minds chapter is a student-led organization that focuses on fighting the stigma surrounding mental health. Maria Holmes, associate dean to the Honors College and faculty advisor to Active Minds, says just talking through things is a huge first step. 

“Active Minds is here to provide information and awareness about mental health and to also let students know that it is OK to go ask for help,” Holmes said. “We want to provide lots of resources, make sure it is very visible to students and provide support groups that continue to talk about this issue.”

Organization President and SHSU junior, Alex Cuellar, says the group is dedicated to supporting others and building awareness.

“It takes passionate students to run this organization,” Cuellar said. “Because this subject is something that not a lot of people are comfortable talking about.”

Through their meetings and events, Cuellar is hopeful to get a clear message out to students.

“It is OK to not be OK,” Cuellar said.

“Do not be afraid to seek assistance, or if you see a friend struggling be sure to help them too. We do not want people to feel alone on this issue or to isolate themselves.” 

— Alex Cuellar

Drew Miller, licensed psychologist and executive director of SHSU Counseling and Health Services, sees groups like Active Minds as essential to good mental health for students.

“It is important for students to be involved and we are so grateful to have Active Minds,” Miller said. “There is so much stigma about mental health. Having peers who are advocates for seeking help, having peers who are brave enough to admit their struggles, and explain how therapy or counseling has helped, can do so much to normalize that.”

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