In an effort to encourage difficult conversations around mental health, Active Minds has launched the “Ask Me Anything” campaign. Inspired by “Tell Me About Your Day,” an MIT initiative which began last spring, “Ask Me Anything” aims to promote a sense of unity among students. Active Minds Vice President and Mental Health Educator (MHE) Coordinator Haley Troy ’16 described it as “a series of events that showcase students who share their mental health stories in a safe space and remind us that we are never alone.”
Troy described this campaign as a necessary response to the dominant student culture at Wellesley. “[The] campaign is built on the principle that students at Wellesley care very deeply about their work and may often unintentionally prioritize their academic commitments over their own, or other students’, well-being,” she said.
The “Ask Me Anything” campaign is an active attempt to diminish that stress in a sustainable manner. Active Minds and the MHEs, a specially-trained subgroup within that organization, will be selling wristbands at their events for $2.00. When asked about the cost, Troy emphasized that the wristbands are “a fundraiser for more mental health events on campus in the future.”
MHE Silpa Karipineni ’18 spearheaded this campaign and hopes it will open the door for difficult discussions about mental well-being. “Our campus can… often be a stressful place where anyone can feel isolated,” she said. She describes the bands as “a symbol of our support for one another. I hope the more that students start wearing the wristbands, the closer our community becomes and the more initiative each of us takes to dismantle the stress culture at Wellesley.”
Additionally, “Ask Me Anything” aims to incorporate a diverse range of student perspectives across identities and class years rather than enlisting the voices of individuals outside of the Wellesley community. “We hope to recruit students to talk about their experience with stress at Wellesley,” Troy said. She hopes that these features will stimulate long-term student involvement so that these campaigns can become comprehensive, annual events.
“Ask Me Anything” events will also overlap with “Stress Less Week,” from April 25 to the 28. Karipineni described this effort as “similar to our fall’s Love Your Body Week” but focusing instead on addressing stress culture at Wellesley. During this time, Active Minds will host several gatherings, the first being “Ask Me Anything About Stress” in the Stone-Davis living room at 6:00 p.m. on April 26. Student panelists will be informally asked to share their experiences with stress and other emotional afflictions. Other planned activities for the week include a film screening and journal decorating.
In addition to Active Minds’ proposal, newly-elected College Government President Zainab Younus ’17 has a similar goal to open discussion surrounding mental health. Younus emphasizes making existing mental health accommodations more accessible for students rather than starting new organizations from scratch.
“When I was running for CG, I advocated for bringing together different parties, like students, faculty and administrators, to discuss how we can better work towards alleviating academic stress at Wellesley,” Younus said.
Younus emphasized the importance of communication for improving the climate of mental health on campus. “I believe that it is important to hear what the general student body would like from College Government (CG) in regards to mental health,” said Younus. “Through Senate, office hours and questions boxes placed the residential halls, I hope to learn more about what my siblings would like before figuring out how CG can help make these wants a reality,” she said.
Finally, Younus hopes to work with student groups like the MHEs in order to more effectively determine goals for the upcoming year and also plans to share this committee’s findings with new College President Paula Johnson.
“I am very passionate in setting up an ad-hoc committee next year whose charge is to gather the students’ opinions and views regarding resources we have on campus for mental health. This ad-hoc committee is a great way to collaborate with the MHEs and orgs like Active Minds, ” Younus said.
The MHEs are looking forward to this collaboration shaping their ideas for the upcoming year. “We would love to work with CG next year to collaborate on school-wide events that will help students feel more comfortable talking about mental health,” Troy said.
With strong leadership and initiatives like “Ask Me Anything,” the next year will be an important time for change in the discussion about mental health at Wellesley.