With emoji pillow sales, push-up contests and full-fledged social media campaigns, Penn’s chapter of Active Minds is finding new ways to bring awareness to mental health issues on campus.
Mental Health Through My Eyes, one of these initiatives, focuses on bringing awareness of mental health issues to a variety of campus cultural and identity groups, College sophomore and Active Minds Education and Awareness Chair Samantha Kooks said.
Largely discussion-oriented, the program organizes small gatherings to help address both issues specific to their communities and within the broader Penn community. Active Minds previously worked with groups such as Penn Association for Gender Equity to host a series at the LGBT Center and the Women’s Center, and continues seeking to work with more cultural groups on campus to reach a broader audience.
On Wednesday, Active Minds collaborated with Hillel Wellness to bring the program to the Jewish community. The roundtable discussion, moderated by Kooks, encouraged students to speak freely about how their faith affects their mental health.
“It’s looking at the intersection between mental health and Judaism, as an ethnicity and a faith,” Kooks said. “It’s very discussion based. It’s more like self-educating, kind of getting the discussion started.”
Throughout the hour-long discussion, students shared personal testimonies and suggestions for improving mental health among Jewish students. College junior Jasmine Paz, co-president of Active Minds, also participated.
“I found it interesting how even though I’m not Jewish, I could still relate to what some people were saying,” Paz said. “Especially when it comes to mental health, there are so many things that cross over regardless of your identity, which I think is an important thing that Mental Health Through My Eyes is trying to help others realize as well.”
College sophomore Elana Burack said she thought the discussion was valuable because it allowed students to discuss actions they could take to lessen the stigma surrounding mental health and to "work on positive mental health practices.”
“Mental health at Penn, in general is something that absolutely needs to be discussed and brought out into the open," she said.
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