Active Minds hopes to raise mental health awareness through artwork

Alexander McCall

Active Minds will host an Expression Night on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Whitewater Room of Plemmons Student Union.

The event aims to bring awareness to mental illness, showing how it affects people and how those individuals cope using art. Artwork will be on display throughout the night, along with music and writings created by students.

A capella group Enharmonix will also perform.

Juniors Sara Lackey and Shannon Wright, co-founders and presidents of Active Minds, wanted to raise awareness about mental health and mental health issues, as well as the stigma surrounding them.

“We both had had experiences with knowing people with mental illness and we are both really passionate about it,” said Lackey, a junior political science major. “There were a lot of people passionate about it, but there was nothing like it on campus so we felt the need to put it there.”

Active Minds is a nonprofit organization started by a student at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. As the group became larger, the demand for it on college campuses began to grow, chartering to more than 400 universities, with Appalachian State University being one of them. 

“Our purpose for the expression night is to just have one night where people can come out and learn about mental health and just to have a really fun night where people can come out and just show off their art in various forms,” said Wright, a junior psychology major.

Both women hope the event will become an annual tradition that students will look forward to.

“I want them to take away that there are people here for them and there are ways that they can cope positively instead of negatively,” Wright said. “There are a lot of things you can do that aren’t the best for your mental health so this is the night that you can come out to see that there are a lot of positive ways to deal with it.

Whether it be painting or drawing—whatever you choose to do that you can focus on and can help you in a positive way.”

Both Lackey and Wright have experience dealing with mental health issues and family members and friends who have suffered from mental illness.

“I don’t think I would be able to get through some of the stuff I’ve had to get through without the drawings or paintings or writing that I’ve done,” Wright said. “It is very therapeutic. I just think art is really great for anyone trying to get through something.”

In addition to the performers and displays, there is an open mic at the end for those who want to get up and share their story or writing pertaining to the stigma against mental health and illness. Admission is free and refreshments will be provided.

STORY: CASEY SUGLIA, Intern A&E Reporter