March 05, 2020

For Active Minds, connecting matters

Showing an inspiring commitment to changing the conversation around mental health, the Active Minds National Conference 2020 gathered more than 600 students, counselors, and mental health supporters from across the nation in February. We were pleased to sponsor the conference and join in Bridging Gaps: Changing Culture in the Everyday.  

A keynote by Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret, shared the liberation and the community that results from revealing one’s truths and realizing that you are not alone. Presentations from SAMSHA and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline highlighted data and the importance of connecting and follow-up, as well as efforts to build out the resources that will allow for the launch of the 988 number (like 911, for mental health) in coming years. The Lifeline’s Dr. Draper reminded us that just being there for someone in need is often what matters most, and shared  these words of wisdom: Don’t just Do Something, Stand There!

Breakout sessions provided insights and ways of fostering connections, support, advocacy, and resources targeted to students and population subgroups ranging from LGBTQ+ to international to high achieving students.

JKBF was pleased to support consideration of biological factors through two presentations by our sponsored speakers, Roxanne Prichard and Birdie Cunningham from the University of Saint Thomas’s Center for College Sleep. There is nothing more everyday than sleep, and an engaged session learned a lot—why we need it (7-9 hours a night, every night!), the many biological tasks it performs, and ways to make sure we all get it. We’ll have more on sleep—with a specific focus on the relevance to college students and teens, in a future eNews.

JKBF reinforced the need for healthy sleep, and our overall message of the relevance of #mindbodyconnect, at our exhibit table. Students, professionals and administrators engaged thoughtfully in our conversations surrounding potentially modifiable and often overlooked biological factors influencing anxiety, depression, and suicide. Our SLEEP MATTERS stickers were popular, and we’d love to see this message spread! Want to help? Make a gift of $20.20 and we will send you 10 stickers to share!

A Creative Programming Expo offered an inspiring exchange of ideas, and a display of Active Minds’ signature program Send Silence Packing, provided a somber reminder that suicide occurs all too frequently in this age group and population.

Two days with these young mental health advocates ended with a keynote from actor Zach Levy, who shared his mental health strategies (lots of therapy, prayer, and evidently, tissues) and his message of building resilience in letting go, establishing boundaries, and exercising self-love. He also referenced biological influences when he highlighted that modern inventions (electricity, screens, technology, etc.) mean that we are always ‘on’ and live our lives in that heightened stress response that is supposed to be reserved for fleeing predators—stepping out of that through yoga, meditation, or other ways of finding balance (and sleep!) is critical to our survival.

We appreciate Active Minds for the work they do to raise awareness on college campuses, for the resources they share, and for the opportunity to connect with their mental health advocates at this conference. Together we can end stigma, connect, and promote mental health.