As scores of students passed through the Vaughn Center courtyard the
afternoon of Nov. 12, many were drawn to the unusual sight of the
makeshift clotheslines that had been strung between the palm trees and
light posts. Hanging from the lines were hundreds of T-shirts, several
of which had printed statements affixed to them.
“Anxiety disorders frequently occur with depression or addiction disorders,” one statement read.
“Half of all cases of mental illness begin by the age of 14,” another stated.
toward the center of the courtyard, students came to a small table at
which members of the group known as “Active Minds” dispensed information
about mental health. The event was a fitting way for the new student
group to make its debut on the UT campus as they strive to attract more
members to help in their mission of raising awareness about mental
“One-in-four is the name of the event,” said Tom
Burroughs ‘09, founder of the UT’s Active Minds chapter. “Our goal was
to collect 1,400 shirts, which is one-fourth of the UT population.”
idea, Burroughs explained, is to create a visual representation of a
statistic from the National Institute of Mental Health that states
one-in-four adults over age 18 suffers from some kind of diagnosable
The group collected a total of about 250 shirts
for the event, having received them as donations from P.E.A.C.E. (People
Exploring Active Community Experiences), the Diversity Fellowship,
Residence Life and the Wellness Committee.
Burroughs said the
group would continue to collect the shirts throughout the rest of the
school year until they reach their goal of 1,400.
there are so many (people with mental illnesses), people still don’t
know much about it,” Burroughs said. “If you just read a name and say
‘this person has this,’ you just put a stigma on it. But if people are
more open about mental health issues, it puts a face on it and you learn
to associate it with something you respect.”
A psychology major
with an interest in the study of mental illness, Burroughs started the
UT chapter earlier in the fall semester, after first seeing the group
make headlines following the Virginia Tech tragedy in April.
really liked the core values of the group,” Burroughs said. “It’s not a
support group, it’s about raising awareness and speaking mainly to
people who don’t necessarily deal with mental health issues all the
The UT chapter has since grown to include about 10 members – most of whom are also psychology majors, Burroughs said.
group’s stated purpose is to educate students about the prevalence of
mental illness and expose students to people with mental illnesses in
order to reduce the stigma associated with the subject.
to get our name out there because we want to have a speaker visit
campus next semester,” Burroughs said. He added that several other
campus events, including roundtable discussions with psychology
professors, are also in the works.
The UT chapter of Active Minds holds meetings every Tuesday at 9 p.m. in the Brevard Hall Community Room.