Destigmatizing Mental Illness on College Campuses

stop-the-stigma-of-mental-illness-e1381250784828After researching the mental health movement and starting to build my website, I’ve realized just how important online platforms are. Specifically with the mental health movement on college campuses, and the need to create a welcoming space for all, an online platform reaches people who may be struggling in silence. Online pages allow shy people or those ashamed of their struggle to step out, voice their opinions, and get help.

The organization that I want to focus my website on is Active Minds (and their chapters at universities across the country) because they have a large online platform. This platform includes their website and various social media pages like Facebook and Twitter. Active Minds uses their social media pages to post quotes, messages, videos, and links to articles in the hopes of educating all about mental health and the need to destigmatize it. This is an effective way of getting the message out because college students are used to scrolling through their social media news feeds and seeing pictures, quotes, and articles to browse. I want to post similar links and pictures on my website homepage, because they are both relatable and will capture the attention of viewers, leading them to further discover my website. The Active Minds website is easy to navigate due to its site map, which gives links to the website’s main features like the homepage, the organization’s background, media, and information on the current chapters. This layout is helpful for viewers on the Active Minds website because they can easily find out why and when the organization was established (2003) as well as how to get involved under the “take action” tab. The “take action” tab includes an interactive map that shows which universities have a current chapter, including UD.

I want my website to be utilize organized tabs on the homepage and include many links, making it easy and enjoyable to explore. I wish to emulate the Active Mind’s website by including the story of how they were established/their mission, along with mental health statistics on college campuses under an “about” tab which can be found directly on the homepage. I also want to include a “why” tab which discusses why it’s important to accept mental illness for what it is and stop making it this unspeakable issue which deters people from getting help. I will also include a “how you can help” tab which lists the many chapters that exist across the country as well as the necessary contact info. In contrast to the Active Minds website, I wish to include shorter bursts of information/bullet points rather than long paragraphs because college viewers prefer quick information, and will be more likely to continue to explore my website if they are attracted immediately.

 

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Social Media Builds(?) Healthy Minds

Online platforms and social media are very important for the mental health movement because both the problem and the solution are spread through the Internet. For example, the ideologies of the “pro-ana” movement, a counter movement to the mental health movement that promotes anorexia as a lifestyle, is spread through blogs and photos. Here is an example:

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On the other hand, it is very easy to spread awareness of the mental health problem to many people with the use of online platforms and social media. For example, Active Minds, a college-centered foundation that reduces the stigma of mental health, has a website, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Pinterest site, and a YouTube channel. Each of these social media sites are used differently; for example, the YouTube channel has videos about mental health, the Pinterest site has inspirational photos promoting a positive mental health, and the Twitter account has statistics about mental health. On Pinterest, Active Minds has different boards for different topics that allow users to browse the topics they are interested in. On the main website, Active Minds has a central column for current news, different pages for different resources, and side bars dedicated to helping the readers get involved. In general, the front page has previews of information found in the pages, and users can read more in depth by clicking on individual pages.

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I want to format my blog a similar way to document the mental health movement. I will break my blog into the follow three pages: “Definition,” “Examples,” and “Conclusions”. On the “Definition” page, I will give background on the movement and provide statistics so that readers unfamiliar with the topic will understand the issue. On the “Examples” page, I will document the mental health movement at different colleges. On the “Conclusions” page, I will evaluate the success of the movement. Similar to the Active Minds website, on the front page, there will be boxes with previews of the information from each of the pages. My page will be useful both to users who know little and to users who know a lot about the movement. Individuals of different knowledge levels can customize their experience on my blog by reading the different pages.