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Active Minds starts ‘PostSecretU’ for student health

October 31, 2014

Active Minds is host to an annual project called “PostSecretU,” an anonymous way to get things off your chest or out of your head.

UW-River Falls Active Minds is the local chapter of a national student organization devoted to bringing mental health issues into mainstream conversation and removing the stigma associated with mental health.

PostSecretU is not affiliated with Frank Warren’s “PostSecret” but uses the name with his permission. Both encourage individuals to anonymously write secrets on a postcard. The postcards from PostSecretU are then physically posted together and displayed in the University Center for a week.

In the original PostSecret, postcards were posted on the internet starting in January 2004, after Warren had a dream according to the PostSecret site. The idea was to start conversations, give voice to unsaid thoughts or facts, find comfort in being like others, and finally to direct others to helpful resources for mental health issues. Secrets can get bottled up and create emotional pressure.

“Pressure can come out in unexpected ways that are not always mentally healthy,” said Active Minds President Brianna Pezon.

Pezon went on to point out UWRF Student Counseling Services is a partner in this event and neither this event nor Active Minds is a substitute for professional counseling.

“We hope when you put that letter in our box, that weight gets lifted off your shoulders and hopefully it will help you move on or help you just to know there are people who care and want to listen,” Pezon said.

Mark Huttmier is a counselor with Student Counseling Services and the advisor for Active Minds on campus.

“PostSecretU is kind of a stigma intervention,” Huttmier said.

He also urged anyone who shared a secret and as a result wanted help, to please contact Student Counseling Services for confidential and free help.

“It’s taking something you don’t think about and bringing it to the surface, it allows you to see you are actually one of us,” Huttmier said. “It may not feel worthy of being shared but once shared it sure feels good to know you are not alone.”

“In writing your secret you are not just getting something off your conscious, just out there and off your shoulders, you are also letting other people know they are not alone,” said sophomore UWRF student Jessica Knapp, a member of Active Minds and a participant in PostSecretU.

PostSecret’s site online has information concerning the project and how to participate.

There are now six books Warren has compiled of secrets. If interested in how PostSecret works Warren gave a TED Talk in 2012 using PostSecret as a topic. Student Counseling Services can be reached at 715-425-3884 and are located at 211 Hagestad Hall.

Full counseling services are provided free and private for all students.

Active Minds welcomes students to meetings held in the Willow River Room of the University Center every other week from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Contact Pezon at brianna.pezon@my.uwrf.edu or Active Minds on OrgSync to learn more.

“I think Post Secret does a good job of kind of saying if you need help with this, this is not intended to be the help but to kind of promote the fact you may want to seek help,” Huttmier said.