Active Minds destigmatizes mental health issues

BY TYLER BARTH
Contributor

Boxes filled with postcards populate the Student Community Center and the Cohen Cafe at County College of Morris as Active Minds spreads mental health awareness through their Post Secret event.

Both students and faculty have been asked by the club to fill these cards out with a secret that they have never shared with anyone outside of the family and anonymously post them on a display in the SCC. According to humanities and social science major and Active Minds co-president Jennie Abat, the event was held for the first time at CCM in 2016, and was a success, receiving over 100 entries.

Frank Warren started the Post Secret program several years ago on postsecret.com, and has published at least three books, explained Abat. The idea has spread to many colleges and universities across the country. According to a Freakonomics blog hosted by the New York Times, Warren started the program in 2005 and, after two years, was seeing three million unique visitors to his site each month. He even launched an app in September of 2011, but it was shut down three months later due to malicious posts.

“These secrets don’t all have to be tragic and, you know, extremely personal in that manner,” said Shelsey Vazquez, a humanities and social science major and the co-president of Active Minds. “They can also be funny, we welcome that, too.”

The pair have asked students to, if possible, decorate the card as well. Abat said she would discourage offensive statements.

“It’s surprising how you think like, ‘Oh, I’m probably the only one going through this,’ and then you read someone else’s story and you’re like, ‘Oh, no, I’m not alone. Someone actually has gone through this before,’” Abat said. Abat said some of the secrets written on the cards in 2016 were varied and insightful, including two transgender individuals who had not ‘come out’ to anyone, several cases of abuse, and one student who was haunted by the fact that they had been forced to kill someone while serving overseas.

Additionally, the college will take a look at the cards that are submitted and see if there are any trending problems.

Abat and Vazquez said they would like to ultimately turn the secrets into a book, if possible.

The cards will be available for at least one week, and the display for them will be up until further notice.

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