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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt’s Active Minds chapter wins national Chapter of the Year award

Vanderbilt’s chapter was recognized for the differences it makes in the mental health of students.
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Mehak Malhotra
The board members of Active Minds gather on the steps of the Wyatt Center, as photographed on Oct. 29, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Mehak Malhotra)

Vanderbilt’s chapter of the Active Minds organization was recently honored as the national Chapter of the Year for the 2023-24 academic year.

Active Minds, which has 600 chapters in high schools, universities and graduate schools across the country, was established at Vanderbilt in 2015. The chapter, which has a roster of over 400 members, is led by two co-presidents, senior Christine Shatrowsky and junior Charu Balamurugan. 

“Our goal as an Active Minds chapter is to support the general well-being of all students, share and offer resources to those who need them and promote general awareness and fundraising for mental health-related causes,” Shatrowsky said.

Vanderbilt’s Active Minds board poses with the Chapter of the Year award, as photographed on Oct. 29, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Mehak Malhotra) (Mehak Malhotra)

The chapter has worked to provide more education and resources on mental health awareness to the campus. Specifically, the chapter has held monthly special events, educational displays and partnerships with other organizations to have a wider reach among disciplines and activities.

“The Active Minds chapter at Vanderbilt has striven to host outstandingly well-rounded programming that raises awareness for current resources available on campus and constantly aims to improve these options for students as well,” Balamurugan said. 

A student views the Send Silence Packing exhibit, as photographed on Nov. 14, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Siyoung Park)

Active Minds recently hosted the Send Silence Packing display on Alumni Lawn on Nov. 14. The display, which featured a gallery of backpacks, aims to incite conversations about mental health on campus and encourage viewers of the exhibit to be more aware of their mental health by providing connections to mental health resources.

“The exhibit inspires action for suicide prevention, connects participants with local and national mental health resources and inspires action,” Balamurugan said. “Send Silence Packing catalyzes conversations that contribute to a community’s overall positive climate for mental health. We partnered with Vanderbilt staff from the University Counseling Center, Student Care Network and Center for Student Wellbeing to ensure that the exhibit was an engaging, safe experience for all participants.”

Vanderbilt’s chapter also hosts a mental health reform group that leads to hosting a yearly Conference on Critical Psychiatry, which promotes interdisciplinary conversations about improving mental health awareness. The second annual conference was held this past April.

Active Minds at Vanderbilt is currently advocating for granting students three wellness days per semester. The chapter also operates a Student-Faculty Wellness Allies program, which connects students and faculty to work toward policies that benefit Vanderbilt community members’ mental health. Both of these initiatives are led by junior Rincon Jagarlamudi, Active Minds’ campus policy chair.

“Vanderbilt is a rigorous school that can be tough to adjust to and succeed in academically,” Shatrowsky said. “We are known for having a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture that creates pressure to succeed academically and in extracurriculars, all the while maintaining an active social life. This near-expectation to juggle many responsibilities with minimal downtime can encourage the oversight of mental health care. It’s important to work toward creating a culture that facilitates and encourages these types of conversations.

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About the Contributors
Chloe Whalen, Deputy Life Editor
Chloe Whalen (‘27) is from Herscher, Ill., and is studying communication of science and technology in the College of Arts and Science. In her spare time, she enjoys running, listening to multiple genres of music and podcasts and doing jigsaw puzzles. She can be reached at [email protected].
Mehak Malhotra, Staff Photographer
Mehak Malhotra (’25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science planning to double major in Psychology and Human and Organizational Development. She serves as a staff photographer in the Multimedia section. In her free time, she loves doing nature and cityscape photography, hanging out with her friends and exploring Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
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George Albu
4 months ago

I didn’t know Active Minds hosted the backpack display!