City College students promote awareness of mental health, fight stigma

Active Minds volunteers share details about upcoming programming and current resources available to students

Active Minds volunteers stand together holding signs promoting mental health awareness

Volunteers from national mental health awareness organization Active Minds gather to promote mental health awareness. Photo courtesy of Active Minds

Kathryn Gray, Managing Editor

Anxiety brought on by pressure to attend college almost kept San Diego City College student and Active Minds volunteer Karolina Guerra Tena from applying at all.

“I doubted myself a lot,” Guerra Tena said. “I was thinking I’m not going to be able to do this because I am not smart enough, I don’t have money.”

Now in her third semester at City, Guerra Tena credits her involvement in the Puente Project for initially helping her find the mental health resources she needed on campus and for introducing her to the Active Minds organization.

Active Minds is a national nonprofit with over 800 chapters dedicated to promoting mental health awareness. Through interactive events, guest speakers, social media and other resources, the student chapter of Active Minds at City works tirelessly to fight stigma about and open lines of communication around mental health.

Even though mental illness is treatable and suicide is preventable, according to Active Minds, 39% of students in college experience a significant mental health issue. Suicide is also the second leading cause of death among young adults.

The passionate student volunteers who run Active Minds at City are currently working on programming that will include poetry, song, dance, origami and focus on creativity as a form of healing. 

Past events have included Behind the Backpacks for suicide prevention awareness, Stress Less for stress management and Validate Appreciate Refer training to provide guidance on how to better address someone struggling with their mental health.

“My life mission is to help fight stigma and discrimination,” City student and Active Minds volunteer Yello Goller said. “To help others like me who have struggled.”

Goller, a psychology major who also serves as a peer educator through the mental health counseling department, is very open about her own mental health struggles in order to help others.

“I think to myself back in college when I was struggling with anorexia,” Goller said. “If only there was a group like Active Minds where people were open about these issues. I feel like I would be a lot less alone in it and maybe I would have gotten help sooner knowing that it was ok to talk about these things.”

To learn about joining Active Minds at City or to connect with a volunteer contact president Ana Isabel at [email protected], faculty advisor Nadia Sayeh at [email protected] or send a message to @active_minds_sdcitycollege on Instagram here.

If you are in need of counseling, City Student Mental Health offers virtual counseling appointments for individuals, couples and families. The appointments are free to students and will not be recorded on their academic records. Click here or call (619) 388-3055 to schedule an initial screening appointment.

To immediately connect with a trained professional for mental health crisis intervention, services and information, call the San Diego Access and Crisis Line 24 hours a day at 1-888-724-7240.

The crisis line is available in 150 different languages and is also accessible via live chat Monday through Friday from 4-10 p.m.

Suicide Lifeline: If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night, text COURAGE to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or chat online.