The “Send Silence Packing” traveling exhibit in September 2015 told stories of college students lost to suicide.


Sacramento State has been named one of the healthiest universities in the country by Active Minds, a national nonprofit that works to change the conversation about mental health on college campuses and fight the stigma associated with mental illness.

Active Minds gave Sac State and five other schools its 2016 Healthy Campus Award for demonstrating excellence in making the health and well-being of students a priority.

Out of the Darkness WalkSacramento State each spring hosts the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (Sacramento State/Rob Neep)

“With the seventh-most-diverse student body west of the Mississippi River, Sacramento State is fully committed to supporting the wellness and success of its students, especially those most underserved and at-risk,” says President Robert S. Nelsen, who lost his only child to suicide. “I am proud of what Sac State has achieved so far and am committed to building on our strengths as we continue to be innovators in campus health.”

Sacramento State has a strong and longstanding relationship with Active Minds:

  • This fall, the University will host the 2016 Active Minds National “Mental Health on Campus” Conference. It’s the only major conference to address the mental health of college students and advocate for young adults. Hundreds of experts from across the United States are expected to attend the Nov. 4-6 conference.
  • Sac State’s chapter of Active Minds offers outreach, awareness campaigns, and interactive workshops to students under the supervision of Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS).
  • Jennifer Burton, an SHCS health educator, received the Advisor of the Year Award at Active Minds’ 2015 conference, held at UC Irvine.
  • Tracia Rochelle, president of Sacramento State’s Active Minds chapter, also serves on the organization’s national student advisory board.
  • In September 2015, Sac State hosted Active Minds’ “Send Silence Packing,” a powerful traveling exhibit of 1,100 backpacks (suicide claims the lives of more than 1,100 college students each year) donated by family and friends in memory of their lost loved ones. Representatives of SHCS and the Active Minds Peer Education Program were on hand throughout the day to talk with students.

In addition to its collaborations with Active Minds, Sacramento State each spring hosts the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“Sacramento State stands out because it invests in students’ physical and mental health on a comprehensive scale and for the long term,” says Alison Malmon, executive director and founder of Active Minds. “Sacramento State is a model of what’s possible when a college prioritizes a campus culture of health, safety, and well-being.”

The review panel for the 2016 Healthy Campus Award singled out Sac State for its best practices, including:

  • It was the first campus in the California State University (CSU) system to integrate student medical, mental health, and wellness services, housing them together at The WELL.
  • It integrates health education into courses for freshmen and in 2000 became the first of the 23 CSU campuses to hire a dedicated victim advocate.
  • And, because stress, anxiety, and sleep disturbances impede academic success, Sac State adopted the Koru Mindfulness Curriculum, an evidence-based strategy to reduce stress and improve well-being. Students practice Koru at the Wellness Hub in the University Union.

“This award represents the dedication and teamwork by the entire Student Health and Counseling Services staff,” says Joy Stewart-James, SHCS executive director. “Their passion guides their work, and every encounter is an opportunity to make a difference.”

In addition to Sacramento State, Active Minds gave its 2016 Healthy Campus Award to CSU Long Beach, Jefferson College, Lawrence University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. – Dixie Reid