Cal State Fullerton’s Active Minds is a club on campus that strives to create a comfortable environment where students can openly discuss mental health issues.
A mental illness refers to a wide range of conditions that affects one’s mood, thinking and behavior. Some examples can be anxiety, depression and addictive behaviors.
Edwardo Lopez, psychology major and student president of Active Minds, said the club’s focus is to lower the negative stereotypes attached to mental illness. The club works to decrease stigma that is associated to mental illness by provoking conversation and bringing the issues students go through to light. He hopes this helps ease students into dealing with those issues by speaking out and gaining more information.
“We hope that people will be able to talk about it so it’s not put in the dark,” Lopez said.
He was drawn to Active Minds because of an event that took place last year on campus called Send Silence Packing—backpacks adorned the Titan Lawn with stories of those who committed suicide.
The event was used to show how suicide affects college students, although not all the stories pertained to college students.
Send Silence Packing was particularly powerful for Lopez, and it made him look at the bigger picture. He decided he would do whatever he could to help other students and get them talking about mental health issues.
Active Minds member and health science major Esther Hwang was drawn to the club because of her own personal experiences with mental illness.
“I went through depression, an eating disorder and had suicidal ideations,” Hwang said. “So, when I saw Active Minds on campus I began to have passion and wanted to help those who are experiencing the same things.”
She went through a tough and painful period in her life where she felt she wasn’t loved, worthless and ugly, she said.
Hwang wanted to be able to encourage others because she knew what it was like to be in a dark place and what it was like to have these conditions.
Organization Advisor Jovannys Mejia feels passionate about dispelling the negative connotations attached to mental illness.
He believes Active Minds provides a space for students to express their passions for mental illness awareness because 1 in 4 people deal with it in his or her lifetime in varying degrees.
“I think a common theme is an opportunity for people to learn,” Mejia said. “Any club is a community and I think that’s what we’re trying to work towards. We’re trying to work toward building a family on campus that addresses these issues.”
Some upcoming events for students to relax and enjoy will be a movie showing in the Housing Piazza in about two weeks of the comedic, romantic drama film It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
The film centers the attention on a clinically depressed teenager who admits himself into a psychiatric ward.
After the showing, there will be an open discussion for viewers to speak about what they’ve learned on mental health and the stigmas.
One of the club’s signature events is called the Calm Before the Storm, which takes place the week before finals. It serves as a stress reliever where there are therapy dogs of various breeds such as labradors and Welsh corgis for participants to play with.
Hwang said this is her favorite event and always attends.
“I always go to the pet therapy to pet the dogs, and it really helps,” she said. “Seeing those puppies excited to see you really lifts your spirits.”
If you or anyone you know is suffering from any form of mental illness, please visit the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) in the Student Health and Counseling Center for further help and information. Dial (657) 278-3040 or the 24/7 Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255.