Posted Friday, February 28, 2020 @ 9:54 AM
(Pictured left to right: Huda Ismail, President of UCF Active Minds, Chelsea Johnson, Olivia Hajduk, Edith Raya)
Earlier this week, UCF Active Minds organized the first ever Stigma Swap from Memory Mall. Active Minds is all about promoting better access to mental health assistance for college students and being a catalyst for positive change. Students were encouraged to bring gently used articles of clothing from home to swap for something new from the clothing racks. Each piece of clothing included a tag containing a different mental health stigma. When a student made a swap, organizers would ask them what they thought about that particular stigma. It was a powerful exercise that resonated with many students. In total, more than 150 articles of clothing were swapped. If students did not bring an extra item to swap, monetary donations were also encouraged.
One of the clothing tags presented the stigma, “People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.” If the item you picked contained that stigma, organizers would ask you about your own personal opinion of that statement, what you think it means, and if you have ever heard anyone say it before.
One student who participated in the swap commented on the importance of mental health awareness in his community. As a man, he believes there is an idea of masculinity that society forces upon males, prompting men to conform to the specific ideals or face backlash for being in touch with their emotions.
Another student opened up about a friend who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Her swap item included the stigma, “People with a mental illness are always unpredictable and violent.” Her friend has difficulty talking about his mental illness because the friend is afraid people will not want him around or assume that he is violent, aggressive, and unpredictable; even though that could not be further from the truth.
To learn more about UCF Active Minds and their upcoming events, you can visit the UCF Active Minds website.