Pleasantville Campus Welcomes Active Minds

Active Minds, a national organization dedicated to mental health awareness and advocacy, now has a chapter on the Pace Pleasantville campus.

Em Teixeira

Active Minds, a national organization dedicated to mental health awareness and advocacy, now has a chapter on the Pace Pleasantville campus.

Emily Teixeira

This semester, Active Minds, a national organization dedicated to mental health advocacy and creating safe spaces for students to talk about mental health, will be launching a chapter on the Pace Pleasantville campus. Krishna Persaud, president and co-founder of the Pleasantville chapter of Active Minds, says that they hope that through meetings and events, this organization will be able to break down the stigmas surrounding mental health and offer students the resources, support, and validation that they need.

Persaud decided to bring Active Minds to campus after taking the class Exploring Majors with Professor Shannon Haik, who runs Active Minds on the city campus. The two of them agreed that Active Minds deserves to be on the Pleasantville campus as well, so they contacted Sue Maxam, Assistant Provost of Special Programs, who went on to become the Pleasantville Active Minds advisor.

“I am so incredibly grateful and proud of our students who felt the pressing need to support, advocate for, and raise awareness about these issues and find ways to proactively address them by creating an Active Minds (AM) chapter at Pace University’s Pleasantville campus,” Maxam says. “My goal as their Faculty Advisor is to support and empower our AM students leaders to change the way mental health is talked about on and off-campus while creating opportunities and safe spaces to show we truly care about every single person who is struggling emotionally or who lives with any type of ‘invisible disability.’ In addition, I will wholeheartedly champion their plans to promote good health (physical, emotional, social, etc.) and wellbeing through a variety of successful strategies that will ultimately enable our students to thrive on so many levels!”

Active Minds at the involvement fair with their advisor, Sue Maxam. (Photo provided by Krishna Persaud)

Persaud says that being an orientation leader this past summer helped build club membership and awareness. They met and spent time with the other orientation leaders, and in doing so formed strong connections and friendships that he feels speak to the essence of Active Minds. They admit that it is challenging building up a new organization at a time when things are just starting to open up again, and people are adjusting to the change and feeling pressured to be as involved as possible. They say that students should prioritize their own well-being above all and that Active Minds is a flexible, no-pressure organization.

“I’m hoping that we can always validate the place that you’re coming from, your own time constraints, your circumstances,” Persaud says. “We are always willing to meet you where you are.”

Active Minds will meet on Tuesdays from 3:25-4:25 in Kessel MPR, with a HyFlex option in the works. Persaud says that they chose MPR because it feels open while still ensuring a sense of privacy. The goal is to make members feel as comfortable as possible while navigating sensitive topics. Persaud wants students to be able to approach the mental health conversation on their own terms and in their own time. Persaud also wants to emphasize that mental health does not belong to any particular group; it’s an expansive issue that impacts everyone, and Active Minds hopes to be an inclusive organization that addresses mental health’s many faces and facets.

“The thing that I love about Active Minds is that it’s not just what it’s known for a national level, but it’s also going to be adjusted for the culture that we have here at Pace,” says Persaud. “It’s all about the needs of students, whether you’re a commuter student, whether you’re a resident student, whether there’s any specific identity-based group that you relate to on our campus. We strive to promote intersectionality.”

Katherine Capobianco, the secretary for Active Minds, describes general body meetings as a sort of support group, where students can unpack and unwind as they so choose.

“We are creating a safe space for students to feel comfortable talking about mental health,” Capobianco says. “I feel like we have a great team behind us to create that safe space, to create something comforting for people, so they can feel like they’re not alone.”

Capobianco joined Active Minds after receiving an Instagram message from Persaud explaining the organization and its goals. Capobianco thought that Active Minds sounded like a unique and important organization to have on campus, and she says that one of her favorite things about it is the members that have joined so far. Persaud agrees and says that all their participants so far are there for each other. E-board members do “check-ins” with one another before getting down to business, and they prioritize the well-being of everyone in the group.

Photo provided by Krishna Persaud

Persaud says that students can come to Active Minds if they need open ears, emotional support, and validation. He offers the disclaimer that Active Minds is not a substitute for the counseling center. Instead, members offer what they can to their peers, and they refer each other to external resources and serve as a “gateway to the counseling center” if need be. Active Minds hopes to invite the counseling center to a mental health-themed movie night at some point either this or next semester to help students navigate the conversations that their chosen film elicits and feel more at ease when confronting potentially triggering topics.

In addition to their general body meetings, Active Minds hopes to reach students through various on-campus events and collaborations with other organizations. They co-hosted a sidewalk chalk event with Chroma, the student literary magazine, on Monday from 12-2 on Shirley Beth Way. Active Minds hopes to collaborate with Chroma more in the future, since creative expression can serve as a means of discussing and promoting mental health.

Other organizations that Active Minds hopes to partner with include Greek Life, Dominican Student Association, FIRE, and Pride at Pace. They have submitted a proposal to host a panel on the psychological impacts of being asked to list one’s race/ethnicity on forms as part of this year’s Social Justice Week, and they are in the process of planning a scavenger hunt centered around their “five pillars of mental health”- environmental health, emotional/spiritual health, physical health, social health, and digital health.

Persaud encourages students to reach out with any suggestions they might have for events or discussion topics and says that if a student does not feel comfortable coming to meetings, they can reach out through the organization’s Instagram- @activemindsplv_.

When asked what they were looking forward to as part of this new organization, Active Minds’ members and e-board said that they look forward to spreading awareness of and promoting mental health here at Pace and beyond and giving students a safe, friendly, welcoming environment where they can open up, learn, grow, and feel better.

“It’s bigger than us, it will always be bigger than us,” Persaud says. “It’s not about impacting the most people, but creating the biggest impact we can in any person.”