Happy@Brown: Active Minds and “Smile Like You Mean It”

Wilson Hall

It’s cited in brochures, quoted in tours, and remains a point of pride for many here on College Hill. We all know Brown is the happiest school in America…or is it?

Despite the much-touted 2009 Princeton Review rankings, mental health and the perceived inadequacy of the university’s mental health support system have become some of the more pressing issues on campus in the past couple years. Depression-related deaths among members of the student body and a general dialogue on the issue have all served to increase debate and conversation on what both students and the administration can do to foster a more open, supportive environment for those suffering from difficulties with mental health.

Some students are particularly committed. Active Minds, a student organization focused on the promotion of open dialogue on mental health issues at Brown, recently held “Smile Like You Mean It: On Pretending to be Okay” in an effort to combat much of the stigma surrounding discussion of psychological issues on campus. The workshop, held on February 19th in Wilson, drew a crowd of students who engaged in a conversation on mental issues at college and particularly at Brown. The topic of the workshop centered around the problems and paradoxes of attempting to appear happy while struggling internally with depression and other psychological difficulties.

In addition to Active Minds organizers, students, cookies, and pizza, also in attendance was Dr. Judith Welch, a representative from Counseling and Psychological Services at University Health Services.

The major takeaway from the workshop? If you’re struggling with mental health issues, you’re not alone! While Brown may have some room to improve in how it supports students suffering from psychological distress, there are resources at your disposal–CAPS, Active Minds, and, while it might not be immediately apparent, more of your peers than you probably realize. Don’t ever hesitate to seek out help, whether you utilize one of these resources or all three.

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