Active Minds Passes CAPS Expansion Plenary Resolution

We did it! Active Minds had a great success this past Sunday – we passed a resolution at Plenary that would serve to help expand CAPS! We’re hoping that by passing this resolution, administration will see the importance of CAPS to students’ mental health on campus and thus prioritize CAPS’s funding.

As it stands, CAPS does not have enough resources to meet the demands of students, and often students are going way too long without access to medications or a therapist. Additionally, our resolution will hopefully help complete the 2020 strike demand of getting rid of redirecting mental health emergency calls to Campus Safety before the student reaches a trained counselor!

A successful weekend, in all!

– Natalie

HaverCare Training

This past Monday, April 18th, a few members of Active Minds attended CAPS’s HaverCare Training, which detailed how we can better help our friends, family, and others. The CAPS advisors first talked about how stress, distress, and crisis are three unique but often overlapping aspects of mental health issues, with each increasing in severity. Then we discussed the components of “HAVER” in HaverCare:

H: Hear – telling your friend that you’re here to listen

A: Ask – asking open-ended questions, like “what are you thinking?”

V: Validate – clarifying what you’ve heard: “So what I’m hearing is . . .”

E: Explore – brainstorming next steps, listening, offering things to do, etc.

R: Refer – bring up other ways they could receive support

Some important points to consider include :

  1. Your own ability to help out in the current moment. Check in with yourself and make sure you’re available – it is okay to skip to “refer” if need be.
  2. Normalizing your friend’s experience can be a slippery slope. Sometimes it’s helpful to acknowledge that what they’re experiencing is normal – sometimes it may lead them to think that they’re not being listened to. Be sure to do this with caution.
  3. It might be helpful to ask “Can I check in on you on X day?” or “Can I share these resources with you?”
  4. It might also be helpful to say “Thank you for sharing that” after your friend confides in you so they can understand they’re not burdening you.
  5. Remember: sometimes people just want to be heard!

Need help yourself or are wondering where to refer your friend? Here are some broad resources that can offer support for a variety of scenarios:

  1. Customs Committees
  2. OAR
  3. ADS
  4. Advising dean
  5. Affinity groups
  6. CAPS
  7. GRASE Center

Remember to take care of yourself and your friends.


Rock Painting

Active Minds held a successful rock-painting event this past Saturday, April 9th on Founder’s Green! Students came out to paint rocks and create care packages (or just steal some candy). The weather was extremely moody – at one point it started raining, so we moved everything to Founder’s Porch . . . and the rain stopped about 5 minutes later. It was lovely to see everyone’s artistic talents! See you next year 😀

The Active Minds Club hosts a Rock Painting & Care Package event on Founders Green. Photo by Iris Saada ’25

Rock Painting Saturday, April 9th

This Saturday, April 9th, Active Minds will be hosting a rock painting and care package-making event on Founder’s Green from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. Please come paint some rocks, create a care package for yourself or a friend, grab snacks, learn about CAPS and Active Minds, and listen to some Lo-Fi Hip Hop Beats. Paints and brushes will be provided, but feel free to bring your own in case there’s short supply. See you there!


Back to “School Mode”

Students are placed into a variety of different situations going into and coming out of spring break. Finalizing travel plans, flights, Uber rides, finishing essays, getting extensions, peer reviewing, packing, unpacking, driving, caring for family members, conferencing, calling. An extremely difficult transition is the one back to “school-mode,” once spring break has ended and courses pick up immediately where they left out. I drove 6 hours yesterday to get back to Haverford, and I have three written reports and a presentation over the next two weeks that I had to get a start on over break. For many students, myself included, this transition is extremely stressful. Here are some things that I think are important for transitioning back to school:

  1. Make some alone time for yourself (or not). Depending on how your spring break went, you may have had too much time to yourself, or not enough. Take some time to recharge your social battery if you spent all break with others – maybe watch some YouTube in bed or go for a walk solo. Or, not! Catch up with friends you missed over break if you’re craving that social time.
  2. Keep your space clean. One of the worst feelings for me is returning to the stress of school with a messy space. Something that helps ease the stress of returning to school is immediately unpacking, reorganizing, and tidying up if need be.
  3. Plan your week. If you don’t have Notion yet, I’d highly recommend. I often feel as though I need to do everything for the week at once, to get it all out of the way, which is often much more stress and effort than it’s worth – and I end up doing worse work. I use Notion to break up tasks over the week and set to-dos. 

Safe travels with your return trip back to Haverford! Or, see you soon if you’re already there!

– Nat

Active Minds’ De-Stress Ideas

During our meeting on Thursday, February 24th, the club talked about ways we like to de-stress. Here is our list for anyone looking for de-stress inspiration 🙂

Active Minds’ Semi-Official De-Stress Activity List:

Working out & playing basketball (even if you’ve never played before!)


Going for a walk


Talking to other people, like parents or friends

Finding new spaces


Doing things to occupy your brain, like Wordle or crossword puzzles

Watching funny videos, like Drunk History on YouTube

Eating food

Playing video games, like Legends of Arceus on the Nintendo Switch

Valentine’s Tabling

On Friday, February 11th, 2022 Active Minds tabled in the DC Lobby from 11:00-12:00 and from 1:00-2:00. Our give-one, take-one positive message sharing was a success. So many people were excited to receive a kind note from a peer or share their own cheerful message! I got a message from a secret admirer telling me to keep my head up and that I can do tough things. Thank you, whoever that was!

-Natalie Masetti

Valentine’s Tabling

Hi all!

This Friday, February 11th, Active Minds will be tabling in the DC lobby from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM! Please come to participate in our “take one, leave one” positive note sharing, grab some candy, and learn more about Active Minds! Hope to see you there.

(And a dumb pick-up line, for those who never had Screw Date: Are you a Minecraft fence? Because I will never get over you – from

– Natalie Masetti

Story-Sharing Event Recap

Last Friday, Active Minds held its first-ever Sharing Our Stories event, where the club’s leadership read aloud posts from anonymous students about their experiences with mental health on campus. If you’re inspired to submit a reflection on mental health at Haverford, you can do so here, and we’ll add your words to this post! We hope that the Active Minds blog can act as an archive of student mental health experience at Haverford.

Trigger Warning: brief mention of self-harm. This is what your peers said:

“I struggle with social anxiety. Even when I am with close friends, I sometimes don’t know what to say to them. I experience bouts of social anxiety and awkwardness at unexpected moments. I will do the Irish exit when I feel overwhelmed by these emotions. They can make me feel very worthless at times.”

“How do conversations about mental health need to change so that people understand they are deserving of support and care even when they’re not actively in a mental health crisis? Other than therapy and peer-support what do those care options look like?” 

“As someone who is very sensitive to stimulus (loud noises, bright lights, etc.) and has anxiety, parties are not fun. On the weekends (during non-COVID times) my sports team would often pregame together and then go to whatever party was happening on campus. I felt obligated to attend these events, at least sometimes – especially if we were dressing up as a team or something like that. When I would make myself go, it often ended with me having an anxiety attack, showing up in my friends’ apartment, and crying on their couch for a while. Then I’d go back to my room, feeling upset and disconnected from my team, and go to bed. The fact that these events revolve around alcohol and I don’t drink doesn’t help, either.”

“I have official ADS accommodations because of my depression. I am supposed to use that accommodation to make life easier for myself, to create another layer for support for when I’m struggling with my mental health. I rarely, if ever, reach out to professors about my official accommodations, even though I know how much they help me. I think part of this comes from an academic atmosphere (whether here at Haverford or at past schools) that pushed me to get things done at any cost, and to be the student that’s a “pleasure to have in class,” the student that doesn’t need any help and thus, it’s implied, is not a burden on the teacher or professor. I wonder a lot about what aspects of academic norms and environments would have to change for me to not equate see asking for much needed help as being a burden on someone. Is that as simple as changing expectations for attendance and extensions on syllabi? Does a discussion about support need to come from professors, from within peer-groups? I hope that folks think about and actively shift those expectations so people can be comfortable asking for help, and getting support even before moments of crisis.”

“Even as a graduating senior, I still struggle with a lot of imposter syndrome about being at Haverford. I come from a privileged background and no one has ever told me I shouldn’t be here, but I feel like I haven’t contributed enough to campus in the past few years. I know that living with mental illness has stopped me from being as outgoing or as involved as I wish I were. It’s difficult to let go of the regret and the feeling that someone else would have been a better Haverford student than me.”

“I wish Haverford had been more understanding of student stress and wellbeing before the pandemic. I appreciate how most professors have been flexible with deadlines and shifting assignments to meet students’ needs during the pandemic, but I am worried about what will happen once things go back to being somewhat “normal” again. As a first-year student, I remember feeling really stressed about deadlines and assignments, and I didn’t know asking for an extension was a thing. And I was worried that professors wouldn’t take me seriously if my reason for turning in an assignment late was due to stress, not only from assignments but also the other things going on in my life. I hope that we are able to have more open discussions around mental health in the future and that professors will still try to be accommodating after the pandemic, but I am not sure that is what is going to happen. Since we are in an academic space, I think professors and students sometimes fail to see each other as people with other things going on in their lives besides school. We are here to learn and grow as people, but that is hard to do in an environment that feels overwhelming and isolating at times. I hope that we can gain some positives out of the pandemic and be more open about discussing mental health and making accommodations for students in the future to benefit their wellbeing.”

“I’ve always had this feeling of not being good enough socially. It’s something that often gets reinforced at Haverford with how often I see people doing things together while I’m alone.  I know that this is an irrational feeling, but it eats at me constantly and makes me feel lesser until I manage to find something else to think about.”

“One of the most positive things about being at HC is that I have been able to connect with other people who are neurodivergent and/or care a lot about mental health. It is so nice to know that if I’m struggling with something that I have people I can talk to without being judged. I often go off on tangents about things that I find incredibly interesting or amusing, but that most other people would probably not care about, and my friends not only tolerate it, but they engage with me and remember the random things I get excited about. It is so refreshing to be validated instead of seen as weird. I think it helps that many of them do the same thing.”

“I have OCD, and it can be so difficult not to get lost in my thoughts when all my classes are online. Even though I’m on campus this semester, most of the time there’s no reason to leave my dorm, and when I start obsessing and worrying about something there’s no excuse to snap me out of it. It’s difficult to spend so much time alone in my room because it makes my anxiety worse, and then I have more trouble finishing my schoolwork, and then it becomes a really vicious cycle.”

“Virtual learning has made it increasingly difficult to separate spaces associated with stress from those of comfort and home. I don’t think people realize how much compliments and kind words can really mean.”

“As a senior, it’s difficult to process and accept the fact that my last year at Haverford hasn’t been anything like I expected it to be. Most of the time I don’t even let myself think about it, because I’m afraid it will make me even more hopeless. I do know that ambiguous loss is a real thing, on top of all the more tangible loss and grief so many people have experienced. Losing more than a year of our “normal” lives, as messed up as that normal can be, is so destabilizing and sad. I can only hope that society will learn something lasting from all the lessons of the pandemic, and that work and school will be more accessible going forward.”

“I wish Havercrushes was more active because I think we could all really use more positive affirmations right now.”

“I have depression, which sometimes (well, often) gets in the way of my capacity to attend classes and to turn homework in on time. One thing I struggle with a lot is whether to disclose my mental illness with professors, and whether to be honest about taking “mental health days.” If I’m struggling with depression and cannot muster the energy to go to class, I’ll often lie and say that I’m sick, that I have a headache or stomach ache, because it’s still ingrained in me that that’s a more valid reason to not be okay, or that’s a more valid explanation for needing to rest. I’ve even sent emails like this to professors that I know well and that I think would be respectful of a mental health day, which tells me a lot about how little I value my mental health, and how much I fear other people devaluing it. I wonder what messages students can send each other and what professors can send their students so that mental health days become more acceptable and feel like a valid option (?).”

“In their official, legal capacity, CAPS can often only provide support to someone if they are at risk of harm in the present moment. I wonder what other resources, systems, etc. are available or could become available for people to use before and after moments of emergency so the support is more consistent or more long-term.”

“Not having the opportunity for casual, unplanned interactions with other people has disrupted my mental health during COVID. I miss running into people as you’re walking between classes, and sitting with random people you haven’t seen in a while at the Dining Center. Even though I’m lucky to live with great friends this year, not having all those consistent, casual interactions makes the campus feel much smaller and much more isolating than it would be otherwise.”

“I have a lot of trouble focusing and motivating myself, probably because of undiagnosed ADD. Even though I see the signs of ADD in other family members and I relate to friends who have it, it’s so difficult to feel valid without having an official diagnosis. To anyone out there trying to validate and understand their struggles with mental illness/neurodivergence–– it’s not just you. Even when I know that it’s capitalism making me feel like I have to be productive all the time, it’s tough to stop feeling guilty. But I know that I would never judge my friends who have trouble getting work done because of mental health problems. We shouldn’t judge ourselves, either.”

The Participation Problem

by Natalie Masetti

I’m sure most of us have been in this position: settling down in a classroom during shopping week as peers fill in empty seats, listening to voices rapidly hush as the professor walks in and takes their place at the head of the room. Then the professor begins, usually excessively expeditiously, to discuss the syllabus and class expectations. Undoubtedly, a discussion of participation will arise. 

The professor will almost always tell their students that “participation is part of your grade.” They will probably say “you can come talk to me if you have a problem with this.” People who do have problems with participating may not go to the professor, a stranger, and discuss these issues for a variety of reasons: shame, nervousness, etc.

Other issues will pop up as the semester goes on. Perhaps you’re a freshman in a class with many upperclassmen–students who have at least a year of study and practice above you–who will have a plethora of insightful, powerful, and intuitive comments on the discussion. You begin to look at your ideas like a child stares at raw broccoli: with disappointment, suspecting that they could be better but not sure how to make them better, too afraid to taste them and try.

Or perhaps your class has that one student who always has the answer. Following a professor’s question, their hand is immediately in the air, confidence exuding from the five stiff fingers. Your answer knocks around in your brain, and you listen with disappointment as this student says exactly what’s in your head. You resolve yourself to answer the next one, but you find that apathy has taken over: the rapid-hand-raiser will beat you to it every time.

Your confidence may also take a hit: suddenly you’re afraid to speak at all, afraid to answer even simple questions. You ask: What if what I am about to say is wrong somehow? Breath gets trapped in your throat: your hand stays down and you stay silent. Or you blurt out a mash of words, followed by a quiet “I’m not sure if that made sense.”

Suddenly, participation becomes much more than 30% of your grade: it’s an almost daily anxiety-inducer. Some professors may claim to be accommodating, but talking out loud with anxiety can be daunting, explaining yourself even more so. I think that some professors need to make a greater effort to understand the process behind participating for students with anxiety. Furthermore I think students with anxiety need to feel more welcomed in classes where participation is essential. A fellow student, Charlotte Scott, has added an important comment: some professors offer ways in which students can participate that aren’t speaking, including sending an email with comments to the professor after class to count towards the participation grade. This needs to be a more prominent aspect of classes at Haverford. I’m not sure how to make this change for us as Fords, but a discussion of participation and a change in the current procedure are undeniably necessary to ease the anxieties of many students.

Thank you to my friends Janani Suresh and Annecy McGeary brought these situations to my attention, and I’m glad to have had the chance to write about them.