A Preview of Active Minds




Recently, a new organization has formed on campus to combat the quiet stigma against mental illness. This semester, FCLC opened a chapter of Active Minds, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to mental health advocacy.

Spearheaded by current president Jacob Azrilyant (FCLC ‘16) in October 2015, Active Minds first came to FCLC when Azrilyant reached out to Sophie Karp, Lincoln Center’s Supervising Psychologist and Coordinator of Outreach and Prevention, about getting involved in events sponsored by Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS).

Jacob is the club founder of Active Minds. (PHOTO COURTESY OF JACOB AZRILYANT)
Jacob is the club founder of Active Minds. (PHOTO COURTESY OF JACOB AZRILYANT)

“Rose Hill already had an Active Minds club that Sophie was interested in bringing to Lincoln Center,” Azrilyant explained, “and once I got involved it quickly went from being a co-sponsorship to a full-fledged club.” Presently, Karp serves as Active Minds’ advisor.

While CPS acts as a resource to Active Minds, the two organizations are not directly linked.

“The one rule of Active Minds is that it cannot be a support group,” Azrilyant noted. “CPS has professionals who can provide counseling while Active Minds does not.”

Instead, Active Minds is dedicated to education, advocacy and creating a campus that doesn’t stigmatize mental health issues.

“I believe that Active Minds has the potential to make a unique impact on campus through the power of peer-to-peer communication and community,” Karp stated. “The existence of an Active Minds chapter at Lincoln Center can serve as a meaningful message to students who may have been struggling in silence with mental health concerns (of their own or loved ones) – that there is space on campus for them to be seen, heard, and valued.”

“It’s the stigma that kills,” Azrilyant indicated, citing a personal tragedy as motivation for spearheading Active Minds. “One of my closest friends in high school was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the start of our senior year, but kept it a secret. It was only a week after he tragically took his own life did we learn of the diagnosis from our late friend’s mother.” He continued, “Starting Active Minds was just one small thing that we could do to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.”

While Active Minds is still growing, the organization has already enjoyed success. Earlier this semester, Active Minds collaborated with the Wellness Committee to run the “I Am Stigma Free” campaign during which members of the Fordham community were encouraged to take a polaroid of themselves and take a pledge to love themselves and others. In April, Active Minds will team up with the Office of Multicultural Affairs for a series of Sustained Dialogues about identity.

“Active Minds is a very event-based organization,” Azrilyant noted. “When we meet together the focus is largely ‘what are we doing next?’” In coming semesters, people can expect to see collaborations with different organizations as well as “specific presentations on certain mental health issues,” “stress-busting events” and “plenty of cat videos on our Facebook page.” All geared towards increasing awareness and making FCLC a more welcoming campus.

If you have questions about mental health or how to get involved with advocacy, you can reach out to Active Minds via their Facebook page, or reach out to CPS at 212-636-6225.

Catch up with Active Minds every second Thursday at 5:30 in LL1013.

OrgSync: Active Minds

Facebook: Active Minds at Fordham Lincoln Center