TV vs Reality, Mental Health Edition Ole Miss club tries to educate peers about mental health

OXFORD, Miss- This past week, (April 3-7th) the Associated Student Body (ASB) partnered with the student led group Active Minds on campus for a Mental Health Awareness week. Active Minds is a student run group here that lets people speak out and openly about mental health and to educate others.

The non-profit organization was started in 2003 after Allison Malmon, a freshman in college at the University of Pennsylvania experienced suicide first hand. Her brother Brian, committed suicide. Brian had developed depression and psychosis and during his senior year of college he returned home to seek treatment. After returning home Brian was dignosed with schizoaffective disorder and less then 2 years later he committed suicide. In response to her brothers suicide, during her junior year of college Allison started the Alpha chapter of Active Minds at Upenn.

In the summer of 2003 Active Minds established their headquarters in Washington D.C., now 17 years later and there are 444 chapters at college campuses around the country.

Kathryn Forbes, president of Ole Miss' chapter, helped plan the week and its events that went on during it. "After struggling with anxiety and depression in college, I became open about my story and found that so many other students have similar daily battles," said Forbes.

Starting off on Monday morning, the organization had puppies from the Oxford-Lafayette Humane society on business row in an event they called "Pet a Puppy". From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. you could hold a puppy.

Sophomore Blair Wortsmith stopped by the event and thought it was a great idea. "I loved the idea of bringing puppies to campus! It was a stressful Monday and it brightened my day getting to hold one on the way to class," Wortsmith said.

Photo courtesy of Blair Wortsmith

On Tuesday, the organization had free yoga on the Grove stage to educate people by using meditation as a way to deal and live with anxiety. Following that at 6pm they had a student athletic panel where student athletes could talk about their experience with mental illness.

Photo Courtesy of Active Minds Facebook Page

On Wednesday, also in the Grove Active Minds had an event called "SMASH the scale". The event basically speaks for itself. People could take a hammer to a scale. Whether to take out anger, to let go of past thoughts or to help you realize you're beautiful no matter what number the scale says.

Photo Courtesy of Kathryn Forbes

On Thursday night, the week full of events finished up with a suicide awareness event. Lauren McGraw, the mother of late student River's McGraw who lost his life to suicide last fall spoke at the event along with UPD, the counseling center, and McGraw spoke about the effects of Rivers suicide has on the family and urged students to get help if they were depressed.

Photo courtesy of Active Minds Facebook page

"Mental Health Week was so well- received and I think we really did accomplish beginning to change the conversation about mental health at Ole Miss," said Forbes.

Chart courtesy of the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Tying this all in to Mental Health Week and current events, the much anticipation new Netflix TV show 13 Reasons Why follows high schooler Hannah Baker after she commits suicide and the effects it has on her family, friends and peers. Baker sends tapes to 13 people who she credits for having a part in why she choose to take her own life.

The has now come to sort of a debate. After it first aired in late March countless blogs, and articles have come up talking about it. "It" being depression, and suicide within regards to the Netflix series. People either love it or think it somewhat glorifies suicide.

Ole Miss students had an opinion on the tv show as well, UM freshman Catherine (Cat) Sanders had "I think it was a good tv show but I don't know how likely that is to happening in real life. I understand and get that bullying is a serious problem in high schools but I feel that some people are making too big deal about it ," said Sanders

Photo Courtesy of Sara Doan

UM Freshman Katie Crenshaw has different views on the show. "It (the show) teaches you about how you actions have consequences on other people. You can see how tortured they feel, and you can feel the tension and regret that most of the characters felt," said Crenshaw

Photo Courtesy of Katie Crenshaw Now it's your turn to voice your opinion on it.

"I think depression and suicide are very serious things facing youth today but hopefully we can change the negative stereotype of mental illness," said Forbes

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