MEDIA, Pa. — As students at Penn State Brandywine continue adjusting to the new reality of social distancing and remote learning, two campus clubs have gone "online" to support students during the global coronavirus pandemic.
The DMAX and Active Minds student clubs, both of which focus on mental health and well-being, have supported students on campus for several semesters. Active Minds educates the campus community about various aspects of mental health, while DMAX offers a space for students to have meaningful conversations about their own mental health experiences.
“Active Minds provides information about mental health, which helps to alleviate stigma and empowers students to be proactive about their self-care, while DMAX primarily provides a direct-care approach by helping students to discuss everyday stressors in a safe space,” said Ed Dixon, personal counselor at Brandywine.
“Many people are struggling and often feel they have to struggle in silence,” said junior Danielle Guth, who serves as president of DMAX and vice president of Active Minds. “These clubs spread awareness about mental health and give students an outlet to talk about what they're going through. Whether it's just everyday life stressors as a college student or more than that, we’re here.”
In this difficult time of isolation, change and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Guth, who’s studying psychology, explained that DMAX and Active Minds are more important now than ever before.
“Given the current situation, it’s vital that we stay connected as a campus community,” she said. “Students are isolated and may have loved ones who are sick or negatively affected in other ways by this pandemic. All of this can make students feel even more alone.”
That’s why DMAX and Active Minds are holding meetings virtually through Zoom, a remote video conferencing service. The clubs’ online discussion topics have been tailored to address the struggles students may have that are associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Some topics include coping with isolation and self-quarantine and the transition to remote learning. Guth also said the clubs are planning virtual events, such as movie watch parties and coffee chats, which will give students more casual outlets to connect with each other while still practicing social distancing.
“Club leaders are really stepping up to continue their extra-curricular activities,” said Bridget O'Donnell, assistant director of student engagement. “Both of these clubs are responding to the current times and providing outlets for their peers to navigate the pandemic.”
“The message that we’re conveying is that ‘we're all in this together and we can get through this together,’” Guth said. “All college students are facing similar challenges during this pandemic, but we’re affected differently. DMAX and Active Minds are here as resources.”
In addition to her roles with DMAX and Active Minds, Guth helps people in a variety of other ways. She’s a certified crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line, a clinical research quality control and marketing specialist at Suburban Research Associates, and a mental-health advocate through her personal blog called Compassionately Inspired.
“What got me interested in these subjects in the first place was my personal experiences,” she said. “After overcoming my own struggles with bullying in high school, I felt I could help and inspire others. This eventually led to my path in psychology.”
What motivates Guth the most in her pursuit to help others is knowing that she can now offer the same support to someone else that she once needed herself.
“I know the power of a simple act of kindness,” she said. “Sometimes people need to know that they aren’t alone. Being able to be that person for others is my greatest passion.”
'We Are' stories
The “We Are” spirit is perhaps more important than ever before, and Penn Staters everywhere are coming together in new and amazing ways. During these challenging times, our community is continuing to realize Penn State’s commitment to excellence through acts of collaboration, thoughtfulness and kindness. As President Eric Barron has written on Digging Deeper, this truly is a “We Are” moment — and we want to hear your “We Are” stories.
Visit news.psu.edu/WeAre to share how you or other Penn Staters are supporting each other to overcome the collective challenges presented by the novel coronavirus. We are!