The student-run mental health group Active Minds launched a new blog Monday to provide students with a forum to discuss mental health issues.
The blog, called Pennsive and hosted at pennmentalhealth.tumblr.com, features pictures and stories related to mental health.
“We decided that we wanted it to be where [students] can share their thoughts and feelings, a safe place for people,” College sophomore and Active Minds board member Yuki Knapp said. “We included the option for being able to submit anonymously.”
Another board member, College senior Luckmini Liyanage, pitched the idea of creating a blog early in November and brought it to the board to be considered as the group’s next project.
“I really want this to be a place where people don’t have to feel that they need to sugar coat — whether they speak or not, go to a therapist or not, I want them to be able to talk about it,” Liyanage said. “It’s not a place that substitutes for professional help, but it’s important to just talk about it first.”
Active Minds worked in conjunction with the chairs of the Counseling and Psychological Services student advisory board to create the blog. Two Active Minds volunteers, who are a part of the advertising committee for the group, were responsible for designing the general aesthetics of the page on Tumblr. Liyanage and Knapp will be reviewing the posts along with College senior Michael Accardo, one of the CAPS advisory board co-chairs.
“We want to make sure they’re nothing negative against someone with mental illness and make sure everything is appropriate for the blog,” Knapp said.
The blog is intended for anyone and everyone to use, in addition to the board members who will post videos, advice and testimonies from faculty spanning topics from “from eating disorders, to anxiety, to depression and the like,” Knapp said.
“We would encourage everyone — even if they don’t necessarily feel like posting — to just look at the blog because it can really help put stuff into perspective,” Liyanage said.
In addition to the blog, the group has decided to release one in a series of videos featuring students who have suffered from mental illness or know someone who has.
The blog’s anonymity is not its only motivating factor. Its accessibility to the entire Penn community is also very appealing.
“Anybody who wants to post something or has an idea — they can start a conversation,” College sophomore and Active Minds member Emily Cutler said. “I personally feel that the goal is that people will not want to be anonymous eventually and will be totally comfortable putting their name on something.”
Cutler expressed that social media is one place where stereotypes are prevalent, and she hopes that this blog will be a forum to combat stigma while also being an outlet for people to vent.
“[Penn] needs to be more open and make it OK to admit and say that you have a mental illness or you’re struggling,” Cutler said. “Writing has always helped me deal with my mental illness, and it can be something to help students and encourage them to deal with it in a healthy way.”
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