A new student group at Minnesota State University, Mankato called CultureChange is helping raise awareness and funding for mental health issues as well as reduce the stigma surrounding it.
CultureChange was launched last summer by Seth Nilsen, Alex Schaumann, Alex Schmit and Jasmin Kotek. These students are also leaders of the student organization Mental Health Mankato.
CultureChange was created to educate others about their resources and start a campus-wide conversation regarding mental health.
“We saw a lot of our friends struggling with anxiety and depression coming into our freshman year. In our sophomore year we decided to do something about it, and so we started the Mental Health Mankato RSO,” said Schaumann, a board member and MNSU senior.
“After a couple years of doing Mental Health Mankato we decided that we wanted to make a change on a bigger and grander scale. We then started CultureChange this summer to have the opportunity to work in Mankato and the surrounding area, and keep growing all over Minnesota potentially,” Schaumann continued.
Upcoming for CultureChange is a project called B414. This is a project focused on the K-8 group as statistics show about 50% of mental illnesses start before age 14.
With two board members of CultureChange who are education majors, the organization plans to travel to schools around southern Minnesota to further spread awareness.
The group is set to speak Nov. 10 to middle schoolers in Faribault. Some activities planned are coloring and other hands-on learning techniques to teach students that maintaining mental health is just like maintaining physical health.
“I personally have anxiety and I didn’t go to therapy until I was 18 years old. Just knowing that the reason I didn’t go to therapy or receive potential help when I was younger was because of the stigma that surrounds mental health which really brings out my passion for this mission,” stated Nilsen, Director of Communications for CultureChange and Senior at MNSU.
“I’d like MNSU students to know CultureChange is extremely motivated to create change not only in our campus but around the state,” Nilsen said. “We’re motivated to do more and put all of our ideas into action and although we’ve been very active on campus, CultureChange plans to do a lot more in the future as we’re just getting started on our mission.”
Not only K-8 students are encouraged to speak out and ask for help, but also MNSU students and educate them about where they can go to get help.
Resources on campus that provide aid at MNSU are the counseling center and student health services, as well as hotlines and warmlines in the Blue Earth County area.
“I think educating students about mental health is important because it’s really common for kids our age and these days especially because of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever,” MNSU freshman Rileigh Martin said.
For any questions or more information about the organization and their fundraisers, you can reach out to CultureChange on Instagram @Culturechangecc.