Guest speaker Laura Mayer visits Active Minds Club

Madeleine LeTendre, Sports Editor

Madison’s newly-established Active Minds Club, a group dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of openly talking about mental health, held a meeting Oct. 16 featuring guest speaker Laura Mayer, the director of the Fairfax County Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center’s (PRS) hotline.

“I wanted an example of mental health in the real world to reach members of the club to offer professional advice about how we can make the Madison community one where students feel comfortable and open on talking about mental health,” club founder and president, Hannan Mumtaz (’19) said.

Mayer spoke on how to change the language surrounding mental health, and how word choice when explaining mental illness is a major factor that contributes to how safe and comfortable students feel when talking about their current mental state.

“After hearing [Mayer] speak, I’m definitely going to use the right language when people come to me,” Tanu Roy (’19) said. 

Mayer explained that if a friend says something that is a symptom of mental health, like “I’m having a panic attack,” always take it seriously, and offer help.

“You never know what’s going on in someone else’s life,” Mumtaz said.

Mumtaz hopes that hearing Mayer’s words will aid in minimizing the stigma and language around the topic.

“We need to be ready to be different with how we talk about [mental health],” Mumtaz said. “I think today was special, hearing someone with experience in the field of mental health, someone who has seen an environment where people are open about talking about mental wellness, was empowering, usually this subject feels like a hopeless cause, but today there was hope in the Madison community.”