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Last Tuesday, Active Minds founder Alison Malmon discussed mental health awareness and suicide prevention to OSU students.

Active Minds is a mission dedicated to helping college students across the country build relationships that bring mental health awareness to the forefront. Created after the death of her brother, Alison Malmon says that mental health is something everyone overlooks.

“After my brother’s death, and knowing how preventable it was, I resolved that no matter what, [I am going] to do something to change the way we approach mental health in this country,” Malmon said.

Originally founded on the east coast, Active Minds activists have traveled across the country speaking to college students about the impacts and importance of suicide prevention. During the talk, Malmon discussed ways students everywhere can be impactful to peers facing mental health struggles.

“We may not all have mental illness, but we do all have mental health,” Malmon said. “You do not need to be an expert to help, you just need to be there.”

Even though Malmon says that many facing mental health struggles are silent, some express their feelings to friends before anyone else. While relevant to college students, suicide and mental health problems have been of growing concern in Oklahoma.

According to an article published by oklahomawatch.org, sucide rates are on the rise.

“Last year, 883 Oklahomans died by suicide, according to data provided by the state medical examiner’s office,” the article said. “That’s nearly a 10% increase over 2019, and the highest number of suicides since at least 2006.”

Though mental health awareness has grown in popularity, Malmon says that there still needs to be work done. She also says there are key ways to help someone who is facing mental health struggles.

“Validate, appreciate and refer,” she said. “Their feelings are valid, regardless of what you think.”

These mental health awareness events are part of OSU’s Grief and Loss Events, which aim to help prevent suicide and bring awareness to mental health issues. Though Active Minds is not the only organization working with OSU, it is the most recent in speaking to OSU students.

The event ended with a backpack that was gifted to Malmon. This backpack was a donation for the Active Minds exhibit Send Silence Packing. This exhibit, which travels all across the country, hopes to end the silence that surrounds mental health and suicide awareness.

Malmon concluded the event with saying that everyone needs to talk about mental health, not just those who are struggling.

“We all need to talk about what we’re going through all the time,” she said. “As someone who is around someone struggling with mental health, you also deserve a therapist.”

OSU’s next Grievance and Loss Event will be held on Feb. 28 in the Student Union. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, more information about the importance and suicide prevention can be found at mentalhealth.gov.

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