Letter from our Executive Director

2017 has been a dynamic year in mental health. For some, it feels like both a lifetime and a single second has passed since the year started back in January.

Thanks to you, some big steps have been made in bringing mental health care in the United States into the 21st Century.

We couldn’t have made progress happen within Higher Education without your generous support.

We maintained coverage for mental health and substance use benefits thanks to the thousands of you who called, emailed, and sent letters to your legislators telling them to make mental health a priority.

Our high student affairs policy standards let peers show their expertise and experience, which opens new career paths and more opportunities to transform lives and services.

This is all thanks to you – with you, we can change the trajectory of thousands of young lives.

We cannot thank you enough for your support. Griffin Ambitions Ltd and Vital Time will not settle for the answers of the past in mental health care and treatment.

With your help, we can take charge of a brighter future—where there is always hope.

To all those preparing for the celebrations, happy holidays from all of us here at Griffin Ambitions!

Be well,


Jacob M. Griffin


Call To Action: ADDY Beverages Inc. “Addy Energy Drink”

Update February 2018—

We are satisfied that the manufacture has ceased distribution of the previously targeted drink. Special thanks to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Deputy Attorney General of Indiana Aaron Negangard.

provided photo(screenshot) Feb 2018 relaunch Addy Beverage


Our Executive Director has launched a campaign to shed light on an Ohio Energy Drink manufacture, Addy Beverage Inc.

UPDATE: April 21, 2017 WLWT Interview by Hearst ft. our Founder


As an organization on the forefront of mental health advocacy in the collegiate setting,  we find it deeply disturbing to find an Ohio Energy Drink Manufacture using one of the most widely abused prescription medications to illicit buying behavior amongst the public. The can resembles in precise color and design the most commonly prescribed ADDERALL XR pill—in an appeal to buyers interested in having energy sourced in the same sense as what is commonly abused to gain rapid energy. It is a blatant correlation to the perceived benefits one gets from taking Adderall when abused to gain energy, speed, and altered minds and behavior.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 12.15.17 PM
Store Shelves Addy Beverage Display in Retail Gas Station
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Addy Beverage Home Page Scan


Campuses nationwide, have experienced considerable growth in misuse of prescription stimulants. Several national studies have found that approximately one-third of college students misuse, and a recent survey of students confirmed this.

Prescription stimulants (specifically Adderall) have seen rising popularity, as demonstrated by their presence in popular TV shows (such as Pretty Little Liars) and Youtube videos.

Consider This:

  • What does the film for example highlight about the effects of Adderall? What does it say about pressures?
  • They take Adderall, presumably to study for their exam, but what do they do instead? How do they feel in the morning?
  • What symptoms do they show after taking Adderall?

There are Blatant Risks of Misuse of Adderall or Other Stimulants Without a Prescription

  • For what purposes do students misuse Adderall?
  • Do you know what risks are involved when taking Adderall or other stimulants without a prescription?

What are stimulants prescribed for?

  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
    • 7%-11% of children and adolescents are diagnosed with the disorder & two-thirds of them are prescribed stimulants
  • Narcolepsy
  • Obesity

How do stimulants work?

  • increase dopamine levels in the brain
    • neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, movement, and attention
    • creates a therapeutic effect with an increase in one’s ability to focus
  • prescribed in low dosages to increase dopamine in a manner similar to the natural release in the brain

Increasing Availability of Stimulants

  • ADHD diagnosis grew 17% between 2010 and 2011 and continues to rise
  • 19-25 year olds increased medicine use by 2% from 2010-2011
  • 2.7 million youth are prescribed the drug each year
  • 5.3% of college students prescribed stimulants

Public Perception

  • Little Risk
    • 40% of young adults believe that it is safer to abuse prescription stimulants than illicit ones
    • 30% of young adults believe that prescription stimulants are not addictive
  • High Reward
    • “Smart pill” that boosts GPA and academic performance
    • 65.2% use to improve alertness and concentration

Health Risks of Stimulant Abuse

  • Paranoia
  • Increased body temperature
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Hostility
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • …and even a drop in academic performance

Addiction and Withdrawal

  • High risk of addiction
    • Quick rise in dopamine can create sense of euphoria
    • Body becomes reliant on medication to produce dopamine
  • Withdrawal symptoms
    • fatigue, depression, disrupted sleep

Stimulants and Alcohol Use

  • Masks the depressant action of alcohol
    • Increases risk of alcohol overdose
  • May compound the stimulant health risks
    • higher risk of:
      • paranoia
      • hostility
      • anxiety

Prescription Stimulant Abuse at Vanderbilt

Anonymous Survey conducted on March 13-14, 2013

-242 students

-59% female

-88% greek life

-equal representation of all four classes

Survey Data: Prevalence on Campus

– 36% of students admitted to using prescription stimulants without a prescription

– 31% admitted to using prescription stimulants to help them focus on studying

-19% used prescription stimulants to pull an “all nighter”

-17% used prescription stimulants for recreational (for fun) use

-3% used prescription stimulants to lose weight or for athletic purposes

Survey Data: Supply

-How easy is it to obtain Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, etc. from students on campus?

-0%: very difficult

-35.56%: somewhat easy

-35.15%: very easy

-8.37%: somewhat difficult

-20.92%: I’m not sure

Legal Consequences: Vanderbilt

The following are excerpts from the Vanderbilt Student Handbook at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/alcoholic-beverage-and-controlled-substances-policies/

Distribution or facilitation of distribution of illegal drugs (including unlawful distribution of prescription medication) may result in suspension or expulsion for a first offense; unlawful distribution includes incidents in which no money is exchanged. In addition, the possession of controlled substances or alcohol in such quantities as to create a presumption of possession with the intent to distribute on or off campus is a serious violation that may result in immediate suspension or expulsion. Evidence that a student has distributed drugs is grounds for interim suspension from the University and/or expulsion from University housing pending the findings of accountability proceedings. Students found to have distributed drugs to others may also be held responsible for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by the students under the influence of the distributed substances.

The presumptive sanction for a third violation of alcohol or controlled substances policies is suspension.

Violations involving behavior that injures persons, that damages property, or that injures or damages the community at-large, will increase the presumptive strength of the sanction given.

In addition, sanctions will be imposed for misconduct that results from the use of alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Students will also be held responsible for any damages that result from their misconduct. These sanctions will be imposed consistent with standards and procedures found in Chapter 3, “Student Accountability.”

Prescription Drugs:

Many medications and prescribed drugs have the potential for abuse. Those listed below are some of the most abused, addictive and dangerous.

  • Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, etc. are stimulants and controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). These drugs are often prescribed for students who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or ADHD. They are, however, used by some individuals who have do not have ADHD to increase alertness or recreationally for a “high.” Studies do not show improved academic performance when these stimulants are taken by students without ADHD. The risk from misuse of these drugs ranges from lack of sleep and weight loss to the more severe risk of psychosis with severely disorganized thinking. Individuals who develop psychosis have very poor insight and judgment and so continue to use the drugs in excess. For individuals abusing these stimulants, abrupt withdrawal may lead to significant mood changes including severe depression with a risk of self harm.
  • Codeine, Hydrocodone (Lortab and Vicodin), and Oxycodone (Percocet and OxyContin) are medications that are prescribed for severe pain. All these drugs can be addictive and may be abused for feeling anxious, sedation, falling asleep or to get a “buzz” or “high.” Addiction to pain medications is common and withdrawal can be very difficult to manage.
  • Xanax, Valium, and other benzodiazepine drugs are prescribed for acute anxiety and panic attacks. Use of all benzodiazepine compounds can lead to psychological and physiological dependence.  Symptoms associated with withdrawal from these drugs can be severe and include seizures. Barbiturates are also sedative medications that can be addictive. Barbiturates are no longer commonly prescribed, but are potentially addictive. As with all sedatives, withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and severe. Combination of these drugs with other central nervous system depressants can be dangerous.

Warning Signs of Possible Substance Abuse

  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Increased boredom or drowsiness
  • Change in personal appearance (increasingly unkempt or sloppy)
  • Change in friends
  • Easily discouraged; defeatist attitude
  • Low frustration tolerance (outbursts)
  • Violent behavior and vandalism
  • Terse replies to questions or conversation
  • Sad or forlorn expression
  • Lying
  • Poor classroom attendance
  • Dropping grades or poor work
  • Apathy or loss of interest
  • Change in sleep pattern ranging from excessive sleep to inability to sleep
  • Frequent excuses for absences from planned activities

When such signs appear in friends,


  • Express your concern and caring
  • Be ready to listen
  • Communicate your desire to help
  • Make concrete suggestions as to where the student can find help or how he or she might cope with a given problem
  • Try to get the student to seek professional help
  • Ask for assistance from campus resources
  • Be persistent
  • Understand the definition of friendship to include making difficult decisions that may anger your friends


  • Take the situation lightly or as a joke
  • Be offended if the student tries to “put you off”
  • Take “I don’t have a problem” as an answer
  • Try to handle the student alone-ask for assistance
  • Lecture about right and wrong
  • Promote guilt feelings about grades or anything else
  • Gossip: speak of it only to those who can help
  • Excuse behavior because “everybody does it”


CALL TO ACTION: Univ. North Florida

Update: Student Union Director confirms post was innocently posted on social media and has been removed, there was never an on campus presence as originally reported.

On April 17th our Exec. Director sent a call to action regarding an insensitive Call to Action for University of North Florida AdminsScreen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.49.44 AM

Ball State University

Department of Communication Studies






By Jake Griffin





April 19, 2017


Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of:


Human Relationship Development

CSPY 230, SECT 800



Chad Sims





S-T-I-G-M-A—Stigma. How can one six letter word cause so many people suffering from mental illness so much pain, shame, isolation, secrecy and discrimination? Stigma refers to the negative or misperceived feelings one exhibits towards another of a certain trait or characteristic, such as in this instance, being plagued with mental health issues ranging from Major Depressive Disorder to post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD). How can having to deal with a mental illness be just as bad as having to face the major forms of adversity that come with sharing the way you feel with others? While many share a commitment to helping improve equality pertaining to those struggling with mental health, there are obstacles and barriers in place by society and in the general publics’ perceptions that make equality a distant reality. This stigma is often a major determent towards those in need opting to receive quality care, leading to impediments of their overall wellbeing which disables them from living the most positive and fulfilling lives possible. 

The movies and media sometime describe people with mental illnesss as, “homicidal maniacs” leading to a public perception of mental illness that leads many suffering not to pursue treatment out of fear of be labeled. This in turn leads to several major types of stigma known as public, label avoidance, structural stigma and self-stigma. These varying forms have led to public perceptions. According to Rogers & Pilgrim (2009), the public has mixed perceptions regarding people with mental illness. They believe that people with mental disorder are more likely to act violently, commit crimes, endanger others, and behave inappropriately or unintelligibly. Some people have a “fear of contamination by the illness and fear of unpredictable danger” initiated by mentally ill people (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2009, p. 24-26). As result, the general public tends to stereotype and discriminate people with mental illness. The stigmatized people are often excluded from their social or cultural groups which can further lead to further isolation (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2009). Additionally, the prejudice attitude and the label that people with mental illness perceive from the public lower their self-efficacy or self-esteem, and threatens their sense of self-identity. They are most likely to feel depersonalized, rejected, and disempowered (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2009). The feeling of despair, helplessness, and worthlessness are also the result. Leading not only to negative impacts for the stigmatized person struggling from a mental illness but in addition these negative connotations, also have a disadvantage in employment, particularly in the already competitive job market as well. So what exactly is stigma? Stigma shows up in different forms. The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health defines stigma as “a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses.” So, stigma begins in our minds. It happens when we believe myths and popular media portrayals of mental illness, such as, “All people with mental illness are violent,” and we start to put those with mental illness in a box. We assign labels and see them as different from us. And the moment society starts to see someone or something as “different”, it sets the stage for wrongful treatment to follow. Think of racism or sexism. Stigma is not much different, although we don’t consider it a blatant social taboo in that sense, as it sometimes should be. Like the “-ism” forms of prejudice, stigma manifests itself outwardly—by way of discrimination in both subtle and overt forms. 

Most importantly to consider in regard to stigma is the harm this causes—both for the person with mental illness and for society at large.

First, stigma impacts the individual with mental illness. The CDC reports that only 20% of adults with a mental disorder saw a mental health provider in the past year, and the shame and embarrassment associated with getting help is a major barrier. We have created a society where people don’t want others to find out about their “issues”, and for this reason alone, many avoid seeking treatment. Instead, they may turn to dangerous coping methods such as binging or self-coping with explicit drugs or drinking, which raises their risk for chronic disease, addiction and premature death. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, those living with serious mental illness die an average of 25 years earlier than the general public—largely in treatable conditions. On a broader level, stigma harms society. Discrimination against people with mental illness leads to unequal access to housing, health care, employment, education, and community support, and this leads to unemployment, homelessness, and poverty. In addition, the perception that mass media portrays about mentally ill people as “being naively cheerful, childlike, and quirky” (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2009, p. 36) lead to social misinterpretation. Martinez (2014) stated that fear of social discrimination becomes a major barrier that does not motivate people who are experiencing mental distress to seek for psychiatric help. Fear of losing job status, fear of criticism, and fear of losing a family also prevent them from obtaining psychiatric intervention (Martinez, 2014). Evidently, people with mental illness perceived stigma in all angles which further lead to mental health deterioration.

       How do the attitudes of community members contribute to stigmatization in people with mental illness? Schulz (2007) states that people with mental illness not only experience this stigma or social discrimination from families, relatives, colleagues, and employers, but they also experience stigmatization from being exposed to someone with a mental illness firsthand. For example, Rogers & Pilgrim (2009) point out that “mental health care workers tend to be paternalistic towards psychotic patients by distrusting and rejecting of those with a diagnosis of personality disorder” (p. 38). Patients diagnosed with mental illness are more likely to receive a lesser quality of psychiatric care by mental health care providers. A study reveals that patients felt stigmatized when mental health professionals do not have interest in their patients’ concerns, do not explain the side-effects of antipsychotic medication such as extrapyramidal symptoms, weight gain; and in fact, they provide generalized treatment to all patients rather than patient-centred treatment (Schulz, 2007). Patients further report that mental health professionals are often provided “a negative prognosis such as ‘You’ve got schizophrenia, you will be ill for the rest of your life’ or ‘your illness means that you will end up committing suicide” (Schulz, 2007, p. 145). These comments not only provide a clear explanation to patients about the treatment, but these comments also further stigmatize patients with mental illness. It is obvious that patients with mental illness perceived stigma before, during, and after seeking for psychiatric treatment.

How can we all help reduce stigmatization in people with mental illness? There are many programs that the stakeholders and advocates have employed on a nationwide and global level to to fight and curve the stigma in mental health. Active Minds, is a national student mental health awareness and advocacy group based in Washington, DC formed in 2003. Their mission is to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues, provide information and resources regarding mental health and mental illness, and to encourage to seek help as soon as it is needed. By promoting awareness and education, Active Minds aims to reduce stigma that surrounds mental illness and create an open environment for discussion of mental health issues. The goals of these programs are aimed to change the publics attitude toward the people with mental illness and respect them as equal citizens. According to Horsfall (2010), the expected outcomes are to eliminate discrimination and prejudice, increase public awareness, provide knowledge regarding mental health, reduce barriers to psychiatric treatment, and improve stigma management. In order to address the issue of discrimination in employment, the CDC alongside stakeholders such as Mental Health America provide educational programs and outreach teams in an effort to curtail the stigmatizing thoughts and beliefs in society about mental illness. Studies suggest that advocates must also educate themselves to avoid stigmatization in mental health field. By providing an in-service training session or QPR(Suicidal ideation version of CPR) regarding stigma to mental health care professionals, undergraduates, postgraduates and by focusing on encouraging hope, promoting recovery process, and providing a human centered approach, society gains perspective on stigmatization and their attitudes are better equipped to combat the ideologies that may contribute to stigmatization. In addition, Corrigan in 2001 found that the emotion of compassion provided by mental health care providers “are typically conceived of as directed outside the self, can redirect toward the self to promote care-taking actions such as treatment seeking.” Simply providing insight and resources for those who are experiencing mental illness use to learn more about the illness and treatment, attend a self-help group support, and meet and discuss about mental illness with community advocates are the strategies that help increase treatment seeking behaviors/ In addition, advocates should respect, listen, acknowledge consumers concerns, provide emotional support, and work with their strengths in order to reduce stigma. There are a plethora of ways for advocates and community members to help sufferers live more positive and fulfilling lives.

       In relation, people who are living with mental illness experience stigma from all aspects of life even from consumers or those with illnesses themselves who understand most about the nature of mental illness. Fortunately, there are many programs and campaigns that are designed to combat stigma in mental health nationally and internationally. It is evident that reducing stigma in mental health requires everyone’s effort, especially advocates who frequently interact with people in all walks of life. Mental illness can be present in anyone; regardless of socioeconomics status, age, or race—so it is not shameful to seek for help. In fact, it is beneficial to seek for treatment because one’s mental health can be well-nurtured and cared for. Together, these forms of “stigma” further form barriers to treatment for those with need. In order too effectively begin to heal the symptoms of mental illness, we must challenge the notion that seeking aid for behavioral health problems is not a sign of weakness or flawed character. We must raise public awareness of the realities of the behavioral health disorders afflicting those at risk. As Americans and as communities, we must take steps to provide adequate and continuous care for in all aspects of cognitive and social development. Community beliefs surrounding mental health, and especially suicide, is eradicated, out of touch and desensitized. Schools are discouraged from discussing suicide out of fear of memorializing suicides—out of fear of “suicide contagion.” However, chain suicides are rare and only account for 1 to 5 percent of suicides annually. In addition, 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a predetermined mental disorder, so there is no way to “catch suicide.” This means censoring suicide memorials and desensitizing mental illness in schools or in other mediums such as Netflix benefits no one. This misinformation rooted in miseducation causes negative effects into adulthood. Just take a look at how politicians speak about mental illness:“We should work to reduce tragic acts of violence by addressing violence at its source, including untreated mental illness,” Marco Rubio said to a crowd of reporters shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting. Rubio has been notorious for using mental illness as a scapegoat for gun violence. When we only talk about mental health when something goes wrong, society is inevitably are going to associate these disorders with tragedy.


Eradicating the stigmas associated with mental health needs to be addressed head on. The fact is that we need to work to address and explain these issues preemptively. Tip toeing around so called “sensitive subjects” makes them taboo, when we should be working to normalize these very prevalent and detrimental issues impacting society.



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