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Key Takeaways – July 20, 5:00 p.m.

Kelly Maguire, Founder of Florida SouthWestern State College’s Active Minds Chapter

“It’s OK to Grieve: Validating Students in a Time of Crisis”


  1. Accepting the grief associated with loss of routine, loved ones and social connections since COVID-19
    • Students: Reach out for help and acknowledging that this is a difficult time
    • Avoid the need to compare your grief to others
    • Grief isn’t just the loss of a loved one. It’s a sense of loss in general
    • Active Minds, a national organization dedicated to ending the stigma of mental illness and prevent suicide in college students, did a survey of students in COVID-19. Total students that were surveyed: 3,239 (2,086 college, 1,153 high school) April 10-18, 2020. 20% of college students say health has significantly worsened under Covid-19 (high schoolers was 12%, total students: 18%) 56% of college students said relocation impacted their lives since COVID-19. 74% of ALL students are challenged in maintaining a routine due to COVID-19. Source:
  1. How to validate students in a time of crisis: Active Minds V.A.R. Method: Validate, Appreciate, Refer
    • Step 1: Validate your feelings. Let them know what they are feeling is OK. It also doesn’t mean you need to agree. Rephrase to understand correctly (“I hear that you’re feeling X, is that right?”).
    • Step 2: Asking for help is hard. Let them know you are glad they came to you for help. Show that you support and care.
    • Step 3: Refer them to the skills and support, and let them know help is available. Refer to self-care strategies and share skills that have help you. If greater support is needed, suggest mental health resources. Actively be there for them. Offer to be with them when they call or go to their appointment. Make plans to spend time with them.
    • From the Active Minds survey: Tools used for self-care: #1 for college student mental wellness: virtual face-to-face time. 55% of all students do not know where to go for help for their mental health – THIS shows why the Refer method below in VAR method is so important.
  1. Finding the “human” in us all – inviting more compassion and empathy into our lives
    • As educators, make it a point to tell students you are learning too and are human. It’s important for students to hear from professors themselves
    • Importance of connection!
    • Acknowledge we are all collectively sharing similar struggles, it’s important to be able to relate
    • From the survey: Students are interacting most with parents (50%) during Covid-19 physical distancing. It’s crucial to connect and show empathy, because we are all in this together. It’s important for parents to connect. From survey: #1 way parents can support students is simply spending time with them (33% all)
  2. The power of sharing our stories and educating others
    • Active Minds primary goal (educate and share!): “Whenever someone takes the brave step of sharing their story, they make it that much easier for the next person to understand they are not alone. Our goal with all stories is to educate and change the conversation about mental health.”
    • In fall, hoping to sponsor MindCon for all of Southwest Florida for students and professionals to share stories
  1. The importance of faculty/staff/student committees on campuses
    • Finding a support network within a campus community. Advice to students: find a group to join.
    • Cultivating a safe environment to freely discuss mental health among all members of the college community
    • Active Minds success due in part to connections with Mental Health Matters Committee
    • From the survey: 69% of college students are still hopeful or extremely hopeful about their future


Questions from viewers:

Q: Do you suggest journaling or creative art as an outlet of self-expression? Something to consider?

A: Our school’s committee is actually discussing the possibility of implementing journaling and creative art workshops into our school’s curriculum. I believe it is fundamental that students have this access to express themselves!

Q: Do they have Active Minds Matter at various colleges or just UF?

A: There are active minds chapters all across the country! I believe there are over 800 chapters as of this year! You can check them out on the active minds website directly:

Q: How can students find out if their college has an Active Minds Chapter?

A: Students can find additional Active Minds chapters here:


About Kids’ Minds Matter

The goal of Kids’ Minds Matter is to raise awareness about the need for pediatric mental and behavioral health care services and to raise the funds required to make these services available in the region through Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and Lee Health. An estimated 46,000 Southwest Florida children are impacted by mental and behavioral health disorders like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, psychosis, substance abuse, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. As part of the region’s strategic solution to the children’s mental and behavioral health epidemic in Southwest Florida, Kids’ Minds Matter is dedicated to fostering partnerships that support existing services, identifying and filling gaps in the continuum of care, and innovating new treatments.

Philanthropic support for Kids’ Minds Matter has allowed Lee Health and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida to: implement a tiered model of care that clinically aligns community, inpatient and outpatient care; hire additional psychiatrists, child advocates and other mental health professionals; offer Mental Health First Aid training to local pediatricians, emergency service providers and others who work directly with children; renovate an outpatient center in Fort Myers where a child’s needs can be addressed in a therapeutic setting; and launch a first-of-its-kind Pediatric Digital Cognitive Behavioral Health diagnostic and treatment protocols interlaced with Tele-Psychology support to treat anxiety, depression and trauma. Most recently, Kids’ Minds Matter introduced mental health care navigators into Lee and Collier County schools who will help families find resources and care to address their child’s mental healthcare needs.

The “Mental Health Mondays” segments are a public forum, designed for open discussions that benefit a large audience, and to provide real-time resources and advice from pediatric mental health professionals and advocates. The information shared on this platform is intended for general public consumption and not intended for individual treatment. The views, advice, and resources shared by each guest speaker are solely their own and are not endorsed by Lee Health, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida and Kids’ Minds Matter. Kids’ Minds Matter is dedicated to raising awareness and essential funding to enhance pediatric mental & behavioral health programs, services and access to care in Southwest Florida. To learn more about Kids’ Minds Matter, visit