Just over one week before World Mental Health Day, members of the Northwestern community came tgether for a Mental Wellness Kickoff Barbeque, sharing hot dogs and s'mores, along with their stories.
The event was hosted by an array of mental health-promoting student organizations, including NU Active Minds, NU NAMI on Campus, I-AM SHAKTI, You MHATTA and Rainbows for all Children. Every group had a booth with information about the individual organization. Each serves a different, niche purpose on campus, but all fight to provide safe environments to speak about and destigmatize mental health.
As the oldest mental health student organization on campus, NU Active Minds facilitates conversations to increase mental health awareness and eliminate the stigma surrounding such topics. In addition to providing information and resources to any students seeking support, it also hosts events like the Stigma Panel, in which students generate dialogue and share their own struggles with mental health.
“I’ve been with Active Minds since freshman year,” co-president and SESP and Beinen senior Phoebe Glowacki said. “I came in having some pretty serious mental health issues, and because of that I felt like I had a story to tell, an experience I wanted other people to hear. Speaking about my story on that panel and hearing people respond in that positive and supportive way was really special.”NU NAMI on Campus
The National Alliance on Mental Illness - otherwise known as NAMI- is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. Founded last year by Bienen senior Tina Zheng and her co-president, Weinberg senior Carlie Cope, the Northwestern chapter provides resources outside of the resources CAPS offers.
“NU NAMI is basically us taking NAMI support and resources and bringing it on to our own campus,” Zheng said. “Since NAMI is so active, we thought it would be a wonderful idea to allow all Northwestern’s students access to this otherwise hidden gem.”
Symbolized by a phoenix and bearing a name that translates into “I am power” and “Indian-American power,” I-AM SHAKTI is a social justice movement that aims to create more mental health awareness and provide support for those in the South Asian community.
“We’re a bit different than other mental health organizations due to our focus on South Asians, a population that does not utilize mental health resources as frequently as the national average,” Weinberg sophomore Tejas Sekhar said. “I decided to join I-AM SHAKTI after realizing how necessary it is to legitimize the South Asian community’s understanding of mental health and mental wellness.”You MHATTA
Launched just this year, You MHATTA stands for Mental Health Advocacy Through The Arts. The organization specifically caters to undergraduate and graduate Bienen students.
“All too often, we react to mental health tragedies as if they come out of nowhere, but for most people there is a long buildup,” President and Bienen graduate student Vincent LaMonica said. “I think we as teachers have the potential to change that for our future students, and at least in music, everyone teaches.”
Although Rainbows for all Children is an Evanston-based organization that works with children aged 3 to 18 suffering from trauma, it hopes to expand to Northwestern’s campus next year with new curriculum tailored toward college aged students struggling with grief or loss. These groups will meet weekly for an hour with a facilitator over the course of a quarter.
“It’s a support group,” director of programming and community engagement Laura Lindroth said. You learn coping and problem solving skills and anger and stress management.”
Organizations like NU Active Minds, NU NAMI on Campus, I-AM SHAKTI, You MHATTA and Rainbows for all Children, promote mental health awareness and support for the Northwestern community. Lindroth emphasized the importance of community:
"You’re not alone, and there’s other people that are going through this," Lindroth said.