Ben Minnis, Loras College

ben_minnis_newman_2014Ben Minnis, a junior at Loras College in Dubuque, IA, has diligently served as an advocate to break down a culture he believes stigmatizes teens willing to speak out about living with mental health challenges. In the wake of losing his best friend to suicide in 2011, he served with friends to organize an annual fundraiser called Party in the Park, focused on raising awareness about mental health in his hometown of Batavia, Illinois. After gaining knowledge from his experience as an intern with organizations in Dubuque, Iowa, such Suicide Prevention Services, the Multicultural Family Center Teen Program and Hills & Dales, Ben founded a new student organization at Loras College called “Breaking the Silence.” The organization encourages students to become effective self-advocates for their own mental and physical health by examining and changing their current habits to include healthy choices about diet and exercise, building their own social support networks, and talking to a counselor when needed.

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