Tag Archives: Active Minds

UWF encourages students to ‘Love Every Body’

By Sydney O’Gwynn

Staff Writer

 UWF Active Mind’s president Jessica Mager explains the activity to an interested student on Tuesday in the Commons. The “Love Every Body” event is held annually during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Photo by Sydney O’Gwynn.

UWF Active Mind’s president Jessica Mager explains the activity to an interested student on Tuesday in the Commons. The “Love Every Body” event is held annually during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
Photo by Sydney O’Gwynn.

 

On Tuesday, University of West Florida students had an opportunity to shed negative self-images and celebrate their uniqueness at the annual “Love Every Body” event held in the University Commons.

The event, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., was sponsored by UWF’s Counseling and Psychological Services and featured a variety of different booths. Several organizations on campus, including Career Services, Health Services and the Peer Educators from the Wellness Center, participated in the event.

“I think this is just an awesome event,” said Victoria Weekley, a UWF sophomore psychology major. Weekley is a peer educator on campus who was working their group’s booth.

“We’re just here trying to get people to recognize their negativity and their insecurities, and then figure out what they think is unique and special about themselves,” she said.

Weekley said at their booth, attendees could write down a word on a piece of paper describing a trait they don’t like about themselves. Then they could drop that piece of paper in a jar labeled “See through to the truth; shed your negativity here,” and symbolically get rid of their insecurities. Finally, participants could take a button and write something unique and positive about themselves and wear it proudly for everyone to see.

“It’s a positive way to just get rid of it, face what’s going on, and then love yourself at the end,” Weekley said.

UWF Active Minds, a non-profit student organization, also set up a booth at the event. The goal of Active Minds is to reduce suicide by destigmatizing mental illness.

“We just try to make people feel more comfortable about it, like they can talk about it,” said UWF junior psychology major Jessica Mager. “Because that’s why people commit suicide, because they feel so alone.”

Mager is the president of UWF Active Minds. The group’s booth had two activities for participants. The first activity had attendees step on a scale; but instead of seeing numbers, they saw uplifting messages.

“[It’s] to reinforce the idea that the numbers don’t matter; it’s more about your health,” Mager said.

For the second activity, students wrote something positive about themselves on Styrofoam cups. Then the cups were collectively arranged and placed upside down on the floor in front of the booth to spell out the word “hope.”

“It kind of symbolizes that you can turn something negative into something positive,” Mager said.

Mager said the goal was to give attendees a better understanding of mental illness. She said she hoped her booth gave students a little pick-me-up.

“I just hope they get a little more positivity in their day,” she said. “And another reminder: Don’t worry about the scale, don’t worry about what people have said about you. You can turn it around.”

One interactive booth called “Share Your Care,” had students write how they take care of themselves and then color a drawing of a person. Another booth, sponsored by the Counseling and Psychological Services, taught students how to write positive affirmations about themselves. Interestingly enough, one booth even invited attendees to critique Barbie and alter her appearance to be more realistic.

“In my opinion, if students have a good sense of self-worth, they’re more likely to be successful,” April Glenn said. Glenn is a licensed mental health counselor for Counseling and Psychological Services. She has been in charge of the center’s outreach for the past three years and said the “Love Every Body” event has evolved.

“The event is about loving yourself,” Glenn said. “Initially it was about body image, loving your body, but we’ve kind of broadened the scope to loving yourself inside and out.”

Glenn said she hopes participants gain a sense of self-worth and learn to love themselves.

“Our goal here at Counseling and Psychological Services is to help students grow into their potential,” Glenn said.

For more information about the Counseling and Psychological Services, please visit the website. If you wish to learn more about or join UWF Active Minds, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Kevin Hines starts a conversation about mental illness with UWF students

Kevin-Hines-photo-Cracked-Not-BrokenEmily Doyle

Staff Writer

Kevin Hines, a known mental wellness speaker, inspired people with his story on Wednesday when he spoke at the University of West Florida.

“Cracked, Not Broken: The Kevin Hines Story” drew about 150 people to the Commons Auditorium to hear his story and tips that have helped him “live mentally well.”

Looking at Hines, it is not obvious that he has ever struggled with bipolar disorder and depression, but after hearing his story, it became easier to see that mental illness is an invisible disease. Hines attempted suicide when he was 19 by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, feeling that it was his only option. He told the crowd of a pact he made with himself that if just one person asked him what was wrong, or reached out to him at all on his way to the bridge, he would not do it – yet no one said a word.

Members of Active Minds, a group of UWF students who promote suicide awareness and work to reduce the stigma of mental illness, were present at Hines’ speech. The group is grateful that he has dedicated his life to helping achieve the same goals that they themselves have.

Sonia Yanovsky, the incoming vice president of Active Minds, said, “I was pleased by the crowd that showed up to the event, and glad that more people are showing interest in things like what Kevin Hines had to say. He did an incredible job of balancing powerful, moving anecdotes with some dashes of humor, and he kept my rapt attention and the attention of everyone around me.”

Amelia Granados, an Active Minds member, said, “Only when everyone has their arms and hearts wide open, can you create a community to support and help each other reach a new pinnacle of positivity.”

“Being a part of Active Minds makes me realize that even though there are points in one’s life that can be unbearable to endure, there will always be someone out there waiting to help you achieve better. I love knowing that our club can reach out to the community and make any individual feel like they are not alone on their life journey,” Granados said.

Hines’ story is one of struggle, pain, and a man finding his lowest point in life and overcoming it to experience all life has to offer. According to Active Minds members, this makes him the perfect person to spread awareness of suicide and mental illness prevention.

“Kevin’s speech helped me to remember to appreciate all that I can do as a person for this club, reaching out and helping, in any way possible, to those who are suffering with their illnesses and needing another arm for support and love,” Granados said. “I’m so glad to have had an opportunity to hear this man speak.”

Hines is lucky to have survived the jump off the bridge and fully recover, as he is one of the few people who ever has. Because of this, he said he has discovered that he is surrounded by people who love him, and it is this knowledge that has helped him to achieve a sense of mental health.

Edward Morris, a UWF senior and Active Minds member, said, “These stories resonate because any one of us could have been Kevin Hines or any number of others who were pushed to the point where we saw no other option. Hines’ story illustrates that there is no such thing as a point of no return when it comes to thoughts of suicide while also highlighting the need to stay connected with the world around us.”

“At any moment any of us can be that person on the bus or at the bridge witnessing a fellow human in need of help, and a moment of awkward conversation is far preferable to a lifetime of regret of wondering, ‘What if…?’,” Morris said.

If you are interested in becoming a member of Active Minds, you can find out more about the group and how to participate by following their Facebook page.

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can make an appointment, without any fee, to see certified mental health counselors at the UWF Health and Wellness Center. You may contact them by calling (850) 474-2172 or by visiting Building 960.

If you are having suicidal thoughts and need to speak to someone immediately, the National Suicide Prevention hotline is (800) 273-TALK (8255).

Seeds of Hope Walk to bring awareness to suicide victims and prevention

active minds logoIqueena Hollis

Staff Writer

The annual Seeds of Hope 5k Walk will take place in Pensacola on Saturday, Nov. 21, to bring awareness and support to the local community about suicide victims and prevention.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to noon and will begin and end downtown at Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government Street. There is no fee for UWF students and volunteers, but for outside community members, tickets may be purchased online for $15.

Each year, this 5k walk is held in remembrance of the people who have committed suicide, those affected by the deaths of loved ones and the people who may have contemplated or attempted suicide.

“Seeds of Hope is our annual 5k walk that brings the community together for a day of remembrance,” said Amber Johnston, secretary of UWF Active Minds. “We want to raise awareness that there is hope for those struggling with these thoughts; to show them that they are not alone in this battle and that they are surrounded by support and tools to help them survive.”

Light refreshments will be served, and participants who registered for the event before Oct. 20 will be given T-shirts that list the names of suicide victims.

For more information on the UWF Active Minds, visit their Facebook Page, or the Counseling and Psychological Services website. For information on the 5k, contact Jessica Mager, the event organizer, at jrm88@students.uwf.edu.