Suicide Awareness: Meet BSW Student, Sydney Wolf, and UNE Active Minds

September is National Suicide Prevention Month! 

As part of this month, we aim to:

  1. Spotlight members of our community who are taking action to raise awareness
  2. Provide  resources for all and help to………..

BSW Student, Sydney Wolf ’22, will kick us off! 

BSW Student, Syndey Wolfe
BSW student, Sydney Wolf, holding  one of the new Student ID cards, which now include the suicide prevention life line number, crisis text number, and Maine crisis line

A little bit about Sydney: 

Sydney Wolf  is a Junior BSW major, psychology minor and is the founder of Active Minds UNE.  Sydney launched Active Minds in the beginning of her sophomore year as she is extremely passionate about mental health and mental health reform.  She hopes to see universal mental health care in her lifetime.  She’s interested in working with children in foster care, adoption, child protective services, or in a school setting, and is specifically interested in the mental health aspects of these fields.  She definitely wants to pursue her MSW (eventually work as an LCSW), and currently has her eyes on UNE’s MSW Advanced Standing Program.

Learn more about UNE’s 4+1 advanced standing program here!

Some Questions for Sydney: 

What exactly is UNE Active Minds? 

“The goal of Active Minds is to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention on campus and to educate the UNE community at large about the various signs and symptoms of mental health disorders.  We want to do this through positive promotion.  This organization exists to support students, but doesn’t function as a support group or counseling service.  We encourage students to reach out for help through campus counseling services as well as local and national resources.  Our goal is to start the conversation about mental health on campus and support students in asking for help.”

Visit UNE Active Mind’s Instagram here! 

What inspired you to start Active  Minds?  

“I’m passionate about mental health not only due to my own personal experiences but those of my friends as well.   Just in general too, I saw so many people struggling, but with little understanding of resources.   I realized there was a gap in students really knowing how to approach getting help – finding a counselor and really going that whole route or even just admitting that they may need help and that’s okay.  Through Active Minds, we really want to reduce the stigma in the UNE community at large.  It’s okay to not be okay, but there are solutions there are people and professionals out there who can help.”

Sydney and friends at an Active Minds Event

 Can you give some examples of how you raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention?

“Unfortunately with everything happening around COVID, we haven’t been able to do in person events as we’ve done in the past, but we have been doing a lot through our social media.  We’ve been generating posts with suicide prevention resources and about what mental health is and how mental health can present.  We want to educate around coping mechanisms, what people can do to advocate for themselves around therapy, and/or medication.  Studies are also showing an upward trend in students who live on campus struggling with mental health issues.  In light of this,  we’re hoping to launch a new program through UNE housing that offers training to Resident Assistants (RAs) so they can help better support on campus.  A lot of people have great intentions but often don’t know how to approach this or know what to say, and we can help educate around this.  We’re also starting something called “Peer friends and roommate support.”  I think it’s an important line to distinguish within housing  that your roommates aren’t always your close friends but they are sort of that “first line of triage,” so to say.  As the roommate, you may be the first person to notice subtle changes, and so we want to teach students how to recognize these things and know how and who to reach out to for help.  

We ran a campaign last semester to put the suicide prevention life line, crisis text number, and Maine crisis line on the back of student IDs.  This passed successfully!  So now,  any new IDs printed will have this information!  This idea originated from an instagram post I saw of a friend who was doing this at the university she attended.  I did some research on student ID printings, worked with a handful of people, got feedback from both the undergraduate and the graduate communities, and through the support of the Assistant Provost of Student Support,  pushed this through in Jan of 2020.”  (See photo above of Sydney holding new ID!) 

Sydney and friends sharing Active Minds Resources on campus

Do you have any upcoming events you’d like to share?

We will be hosting a virtual weekly educational/check-in events this semester in collaboration with UNE health and wellness educator, Eryn Neptune and student interns.  Active Minds is sponsoring the educational portion while the Erin will lead therapeutic activities to build connection and alleviate stresses, like mindfulness, yoga, music-sharing events etc. We plan to have a conversation about different mental health topics each week.  

Any last words? 

“I think it’s important for students to remember that even if they are feeling alone and they don’t know how to handle what is happening in their world, there are resources out there, there are people who can help, there are coping strategies, and that they are not truly alone in what they are going through.”