Print this page

2008 Student Mental Health Advocate Award

To recognize outstanding student leadership in the area of campus mental health, the University of Michigan initiated the Student Mental Health Advocate Award in 2007. The undergraduate and graduate students who have been nominated from across the country have all made a significant impact in their campus communities by raising awareness of mental health issues, advocating for mental health services on campus for diverse student populations, and helping to reduce the stigma of depressive illnesses.

2008 Award Recipient

Emily Parsons

Senior, Central Michigan University
Mount Pleasant, MI
Major: Art Education
Minor: Speech Education

Emily is the founder and president of the recently established Central Michigan University chapter of Active Minds. After attending the annual Active Minds conference in Washington, D.C. in October 2007, Emily founded the CMU chapter in November. Since that time, Emily has already planned and implemented several successful programs to help decrease the stigma of mental illness on her campus. Through Emily’s efforts, which include creating a collaborative relationship with the student government and Counseling Center, the CMU chapter of Active Minds has been very successful in bringing valuable information to students across campus.

In addition to organizing biweekly Active Minds meetings, Emily has developed several special events to raise awareness and decrease stigma. In January, Emily organized the weeklong “Beat the Blues” program which was designed to get students out of their residences and provide a reprieve from their studies and the weather.

The week included many different events for students, such as free hot chocolate, a t-shirt tie-dying stand, a movie screening of “About a Boy,” and a musical performance at a local coffee shop. All events were aimed at raising awareness about campus depression, and materials from local mental health resources were distributed. In addition, two educational events were also scheduled - a "Check Up from the Neck Up" depression screening, and a panel discussion about depression among college students.

Emily is also planning a “Stomp Out Stigma” 5k run for April 6th, 2008. The run will help bring attention to mental health issues by including statistics on the back of every runner's shirt. In addition, former Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple will speak about the importance of suicide prevention, related to his personal experience of losing his son to suicide in 2000.

In the short time since she founded this chapter of Active Minds, Emily has demonstrated great leadership, organizational skills, and a passion for advocacy. Her efforts have made great strides to reduce the stigma of mental illness among her peers at Central Michigan University.

Nominated by:

Gary Silker, Ed.D., LPC, NCC
Active Minds Advisor
Counselor, Counseling Center
Central Michigan University

Ross Rapaport, Ph.D., LPC, NCC
Director, Counseling Center
Central Michigan University

Becca Frazee
Chapters Coordinator
Active Minds, Inc.

Brian and Mary Jo Parsons