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Penn State DMAX Club Encourages Honest Conversation To Reduce Mental Health Stigma

The lack of long-term mental health resources at Penn State is arguably one of the most frustrating issues that students face. To combat the growing issue, the Penn State DMAX Club was launched.

The DMAX Club originally came to Penn State in 2018, although it initially had trouble recruiting new members. Recently, the club launched a new social media campaign and has gained much more interest and involvement. Currently, there are about 20 active members.

The DMAX Club is an extension of the DMAX Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization based out of Radnor, Pennsylvania. Two parents experienced the death of their son, Dan, when he took his own life. In his memory, they created the foundation to start conversations that matter for the mental health of young people. The foundation was named after Dan, as his teammates called him DMAX.

The Penn State DMAX Club offers more events and fundraisers for students. They are currently organizing therapy dog sessions, documentary viewings about mental health, and various destress events.

As the club grows in membership, DMAX will create peer supports groups, where people can feel connected to other students in a relaxed environment. A new executive board will finalize many of these events and services by the end of the month.

One of the foundational principles of the club is to connect students with resources that are available to them on campus.

Some of the resources that the club helps students get connected to include CAPS, the Gender Equity Center, the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC), the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the Paul Robeson Cultural Center (PRCC), the Student Disability Resource Center, and the Student Advocacy Center.

“Mental health is crucial for college students, and unfortunately, there are too many students who are struggling with their mental health,” said Priya Hosangadi, the DMAX Club President. “Although there have been great advancements in allowing people to be more honest about their mental health, there is still a huge stigma surrounding the discussion of it.”

The DMAX Club meets every week for about an hour. Typically, a meeting includes a discussion about club members’ highs and lows for the week. Then, they go into discussion about a topic on peoples’ minds, such as exam stress or how everyone is getting through winter blues.

The goals of these discussions is not to act as counselors to one another, but rather to serve as a support system and show that students are not alone in their struggles and feelings.

Topics that the club has discussed include school stress, family tensions, relationships, personal health, anxiety, and depression. Sometimes, instead of a discussion, the DMAX Club will do an activity like make stress balls or vision boards for the semester.

DMAX Clubs are active at many universities including, Drexel, Temple, Millersville, Penn State Brandywine, Lehigh, and Maryland. Once a year, the executive members of each school attend a meeting to share announcements and discuss issues that they face.

“DMAX is here to say that it is okay to not always have it all together,” Hosangadi said. “Our mission is to ensure that students feel they have a support network, and are allowed to express any emotion that they may be feeling without feeling ashamed.”

The next DMAX Club meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 24. The location is TBA. Follow DMAX on Instagram for updates and to learn more about the club.

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a freshman writer from York, PA. She intends to major in biology and minor in political science. She overuses the ~tilde~ and aspires to be no other than the great Guy Fieri. You can find Colleen filling up her gas tank at Rutter’s, the ~superior~ Pennsylvania gas station. Please direct any questions or concerns to [email protected]

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