About Cornell Minds Matter
Increasing numbers of college students at Cornell University and across the country are reporting stress, symptoms of depression and other issues relating to mental health. Concerned about this trend and the lack of student-based mental health advocacy at Cornell, founder, Rahul Banerji '07, worked with a student executive board to create Cornell Minds Matter (CMM) in 2004.
After returning from a two-year mental health leave of absence, Rahul was disappointed with the services that Cornell's campus offered to students with mental illness. He also realized that there is lot of stigma surrounding mental illness that he himself had to deal with after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. With these two ideas in mind, he formed a group that would help to promote knowledge about mental health and resources on campus, work to make Cornell a less stressful place, and de-stigmatize mental illness.
CMM's first Executive Board stressed that the group was not just about mental disorders, it also was about promoting mental health awareness on campus and providing ways for the average Cornell student to talk about and relieve stress that they dealt with on a day to day basis. The development of concrete techniques for stress reduction and healthy lifestyle was emphasized.
Kent Hubbell, Dean of Students, was so excited about the mission of our group that he invited Cornell Minds Matter to be a student organization of the Dean of Students Office and asked Casey Carr to be the advisor. Since then CMM has created a solid constitution and the Executive Board has expanded to 13 positions. Additional undergraduate staff members support the Board and CMM's listserv has grown to over 1,000.
CMM continues to find creative ways to promote mental health awareness and help students through the daily stress of college life. In addition to the large-scale events and weekly series that CMM offers, members have also worked with the Cornell administration and other student groups to improve mental health resources on campus.
CMM members have have worked to improve Notice and Respond practices and have consulted on Cornell's recently-developed Mental Health Framework. Additionally, members have contributed to the Faculty Handbook on the Signs and Symptoms of Students in Distress and the Cornell Family Handbook.
CMM strives to act as a liaison between students, faculty, staff, and the administration on mental health issues. The group has specifically worked to address suicide prevention, stress management, and the needs of students returning from a leave of absence. CMM looks forward to continuing Rahul's vision of creating an open and supportive living-learning environment at Cornell.