Pictured are Active Minds Club President Amanda Daly and son, Active Minds Co-Advisor Sarah Linden-Brooks along with Care Team member Doreen Dougherty and son.
Thomas Nelson’s Care Team along with the student organization Active Minds joined efforts to raise awareness about suicide prevention by participating in the Virginia Peninsula Out of the Darkness Community Walk on Sept. 15. Completing a three-mile course at Newport News Park, they were among over 800 participants from colleges, universities, community groups, businesses and more.
Amanda Daly, Active Minds president, eagerly supported this important cause. “There are a lot of things that build up to suicide. It’s important to bring awareness to the community and talk about things that people don’t like to talk about,” said Daly.
She said suicide has direct ties to mental health awareness, which is a main focus of Active Minds. With roughly 500 chapters at colleges and university campuses nationwide, the organization strives to keep students in tune with resources and practices for maintaining good mental health, thereby, keeping the issue in the forefront.
Sarah Linden-Brooks, an Active Minds co-advisor at Thomas Nelson, said the club has about 70 members and often presents pop-up tables at both campuses to share materials and allow students to have conversations about mental health. The group also hosts gatherings each exam period at both campuses that allow students to destress with hand-on activities such as coloring and crafts. Providing ways to help build healthier minds and boost comfort levels about discussing mental health are important, she noted.
“Trying to get people to talk more about mental health issues and concerns to bring awareness to the fact that this a societal issue is our goal. Through talking about mental health awareness, we hope people will choose alternatives like seeking help to reduce the prevalence of suicide,” said Linden-Brooks, who shares Active Minds club advisor role with Assistant Professor Jennifer Morey and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Lauren Williams.
Since Active Minds concentrates on mental health awareness, Daly and Linden-Brooks believe the Out of the Darkness Community Walk is a fitting venture. They signed up without hesitation and this mark the club’s second consecutive year participating.
“It was important to do (the community walk) so we could show support for the families of people who were lost to suicide and also support people who are going through something. People who have similar experiences getting together, talking … we are just trying to make this a better place so people don’t feel like they have to (commit suicide),” said Daly, who is pursuing an associate of science degree and has been president of Active Minds since fall 2018.
Linden-Brooks mirrored the sentiment.
“Out of Darkness focuses on increasing visibility about how prevalent suicide is. It’s something that ties into mental health awareness. The walks are there to help people talk about their personal afflictions or their family experiences with suicide as a way of trying to change how people and society approach mental health … make it less of a taboo subject so we can try to avoid these tragedies,” said Linden-Brooks.
“The event in general is a good avenue for helping make this problem visible. Historically, suicide has been one of those taboo things that people don’t want to recognize. Suicide is occurring increasingly. So this raises awareness … allows us to open up conversations on mental health issues. It’s certainly in line with what Active Minds stands for,” Linden Brooks added.
Care Team member Doreen Dougherty of Disability Support Services also represented the College at the Sept. 15 event which was also a fundraiser to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). She indicated that this year’s 90 participating teams raised $41,423.77 to support AFSP's bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.
Thomas Nelson has been represented in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk since 2014. This year in addition to Daly, Dougherty and Linden-Brooks, others representing Thomas Nelson were Yvonne Blow, Michelle Hanson-Hart, Paula Maguire-Tremo and Ashley Wilson.
Both the College’s Care Team and Active Minds chapter are conduits for accessing many important resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a 24-hour line at 1-800-273-TALK.