On Nov. 9, Active Minds hosted an event titled ‘ASK-tivation’ to introduce a new mental health support initiative, ASK, in association with MTV and Mental Health Is Health. Standing for Acknowledge, Support and Keep in Touch, the ASK initiative is part of a broader national initiative across colleges and universities in both the United States and Canada.
First founded in 2003, Active Minds is a national organization with over 600 chapters across college campuses. According to Marilyn Gates ’26, the Vice President of Kenyon’s Active Minds chapter, the organization sent out an interest form to chapters in early October, advertising their new mental-health support initiative. The first 50 chapters to fill out the form would have the opportunity to host an introductory event to share the ASK initiative with their wider college community.
As one of those 50 chapters, Kenyon’s chapter of Active Minds was sent a variety of materials for friendship bracelet making, which was the theme of the ASK-tivation. According to Gates, over 30 students attended the event. For one attendee, Derek Dean ’25, the event was a welcome reprieve from academic stress. “It was my first time making friendship bracelets that I remember,” Dean said. “It was more challenging than I thought.”
Samantha Silk ’25, President of Kenyon’s Active Minds chapter, expressed similar excitement. “The event went really well,” they wrote in an email to the Collegian. “It was so great to see students laughing with their friends and helping each other make friendship bracelets!”
Gates explained that the ASK initiative is a new program to replace a previous Active Minds program, VAR (Validate, Appreciate, Refer), and will have a formal training product that will launch in 2024. “It’s a mental-health support initiative for anyone who you think is struggling, or anyone who reaches out to you in need of support,” Gates explained in an interview with the Collegian.
While formal training for the ASK initiative will roll out in 2024, both Silk and Gates expressed their hopes for future initiatives that the chapter has planned for Kenyon.
“I think Kenyon students are incredibly passionate about activism of all sorts, and mental health is something that touches us all,” Silk wrote. “Active Minds is so excited to provide ASK as a new, concise guide that we hope will give students the tools to reach out and support each other, creating positive change on campus!”
Gates agreed. “The value of Active Minds is in the different levels of community that it engages,” she said. “I think it’s important that Active Minds is focused on the mental health of the student community at large.”