How One Student Group is Changing the Conversation

Stigma and taboo. These are just two things that keep individuals suffering from mental illness from getting help.  “Active Minds” helps promotes mental health awareness, education, and advocacy on college campuses.

The U of R’s chapter of Active Minds hosts a variety of different events ranging from guest speakers to a variety of awareness drives throughout the year in order to encourage a dialogue about mental health between members of the campus community.  Chapter members help to facilitate these conversations as self-proclaimed “stigma fighters,” combating misconceptions and advocating for greater awareness of common mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Stephanie Mejia ’15, a psychology major minoring in International Relations, and one of the club’s co-presidents, said one of her favorite events is an annual art exposition, named “HeART of Disorder.”  “We don’t just advocate for stomping out stigma; we show the community what stigma looks and feels like through various art forms,” she said.

“Prevent a Meltdown” was another program held last year that focused particularly on the student population.  Hosting an ice cream social right before finals week, one of the most stressful weeks of the semester, the student organization partnered with University Health Services in order to pair sweet treats with information about stress-reducing mechanisms.

The “Tell It to the Wall” campaign, which began at the end of October, offers the campus population an anonymous outlet to share their secrets and issues to the public.  The wall, displayed on the third floor of Wilson Commons, is composed of anonymously submitted posts, a la Post Secret.  That same week, Active Minds partnered again with UHS at the Sex and Chocolate Health Fair in order to discuss mental and sexual health.

Co-president Hayley Harnicher ’15, a psychology major with minors in mathematics and business, is thankful for the opportunities that Active Minds has provided her, from serving on the national Student Advisory Committee to the organization’s national office in Washington D.C.  Beyond this, however, she is most grateful for the clarity that the group’s mission provides.  “The best thing I have learned is that taking care of your mental health, or seeking help if needed, is not a weakness and should be commended,” she said.

The Rochester community is no stranger to the costs of overlooking mental health.  Last year, Samuel Freeling, an undergraduate student from Georgetown D.C., ended his own life.  Sam’s mother created Project S.A.M., which hosts an annual 5K Fun Run, the Spike Classic, to provide support and advocacy for those suffering from mental illnesses like depression.

Last year, the money raised by the Spike Classic was used to fund a new track at Sam’s high school, Georgetown Day High School.  This year, funds raised by the run and through their website will go to Active Minds.  The group plans to use the donation to bring the “Send Silence Packing” display to campus.

“It is important for our student group to support a cause that has directly impacted our peers and the U of R community,” said Mejia.  “It is up to us to continue the conversation and make the student body, faculty, staff, and administration aware of the cause and how we can make a difference in the future of our campus.”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling, the CARE Network exists to identify students who may be in distress. Simply fill out a CARE report or set up an appointment with University Counseling Services. Students can call 585-275-3113 to make an appointment.

Photo credit: Helga Weber/Flickr

Spirit of old Vienna returns at 29th annual Viennese Ball

WHAT: The University of Rochester’s Ballroom Dancing Club will bring dancing and mystery to the River Campus with this year’s masquerade themed Annual Viennese Ball. The event is open to the public.

TIME, DATE, PLACE: 8 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Oct. 25, in the May Room, located on the 4th floor of Wilson Commons, on the University of Rochester’s River Campus.

ABOUT: Students, faculty and community members join together to don their formal attire and masks to dance the night away at the annual Viennese Ball, sponsored by the University of Rochester’s Ballroom Dancing Club. At 7 p.m., a complimentary crash course in Viennese waltz will take place for those who would like to learn or brush up their skills before the ball. The event will commence at 8 p.m. and includes live performances from a string quartet of Eastman School musicians, a local Rochester dance troupe, and the Argentinian tango club. A contest will also take place for the best dressed dancer, and the winner will be rewarded with a free lesson series from the Ballroom Dancing Club.

TICKETS: Tickets are available at the Common Market in Wilson Commons. Tickets are $12 for University students, $15 for University faculty, staff and graduate students and $18 for the general public. Masks will be available for sale at the door for $2.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Email urballroom@gmail.com or call Common Connection at 585.275.5911

Pride Network Hosts Transgendered Comedian Ian Harvie

Univ. Communications – The University of Rochester Pride Network, a student organization that supports Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) students on campus, presented transgendered stand-up comedian Ian Harvie at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 25, in Hubbell Auditorium, located in Hutchison Hall on the University’s River Campus.

As one of the first openly transgendered comics, Ian Harvie has been dubbed “quite possibly the most unique stand-up comic in the country” by Frontiers Magazine while Curve Magazine says he is the “comedian Margaret Cho can’t stop raving about.”

According to his website, Harvie’s repertoire includes his “eccentric views on love, families, adolescence, substance abuse, and gender identification…” and “his folksy, ingenuous delivery almost—but not quite—tempers his zinger punch lines, making them not just hilarious but seriously twisted.”

Getting his start in comedy clubs throughout Boston, Harvie has performed at a variety of comedy festivals, including NYC Pride in New York City, South Beach Comedy Festival in Miami, and the Los Angeles Comedy Arts Festival in Los Angeles. Harvie also is the host of “The Ian Harvie Show,” a web-based comedy series that mixes guest appearances into his stand-up routine.

The event was co-sponsored by the Pride Alliance, the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, UR ResLife, the Office of the University Intercessor, the Susan B. Anthony Institute, and the Women’s Studies Undergraduate Council.