Active Minds

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Active Minds
Active Minds.png
Formation June 2003
Founder Alison Malmon
Purpose Mental health Awareness, Suicide Prevention
Headquarters Washington DC, United States
Executive Director
Alison Malmon

Active Minds is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising mental health awareness among college students, on the peer level. Active Minds was founded by Alison Malmon in 2003, after her older brother died by suicide in 2000.


Active Minds was established by Alison Malmon in June 2003. Malmon founded Active Minds after her older brother, Brian, died by suicide on March 24, 2000. While a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, Alison was driven to combat the stigma and lack of understanding that she felt contributed to Brian’s death, so she developed a student organization to promote mental health awareness on her campus.[1] Upon graduating she launched the national nonprofit, Active Minds, Inc. Led by Alison Malmon as Executive Director, today Active Minds is shaping the policy makers, school administrators, and parents of tomorrow.

About Active Minds[edit]

Active Minds is the voice for student mental health and a 501(c)(3) organization.[2] It is the leading national organization that empowers students to be the driving force to change the perception about mental health issues. A rapidly growing network of more than 400 student-led chapters,[3] parents, families, and school administrators all working towards one goal—to change the conversation about mental health. Active Minds envisions a day when society fully understands and respects issues of mental health.

To accomplish this, Active Minds works to increase awareness, provide information and resources, and encourage help-seeking behavior. Active Minds works with student leaders on college campuses in nearly all 50 states, plus Washington, DC and Canada to educate students so they know where to turn for help; empower students to engage peers, administrators and communities on every campus about mental health; teach student leaders to be the next generation of mental health advocates; and connect all who are passionate about college mental health to energize a movement for change.

National programs[edit]

In addition to local events held by Active Minds chapters, Active Minds, Inc. hosts national programs to increase a broader awareness for student mental health. To engage students in a national movement, Active Minds, Inc. has developed six programs that are implemented by their chapters all across the country.

The organization also hosts an annual Mental Health on Campus Conference in the fall, which is geared toward student and staff advocates and includes leadership development sessions led by the Wellstone Action Network, breakout sessions led by professionals in the mental health and campus communities, best-practice workshops led by student members of Active Minds, and plenary sessions led by some of the most esteemed individuals in the field. The conference is hosted by a different chapter of Active Minds every year and held on a college campus.[4]

Emerging Scholars Fellowship[edit]

The Emerging Scholars Fellowship was created to support behavioral health research by college-aged scholars. It provides an opportunity for students to complete funded, self-designed mental health projects and to be connected with a network of young scholars and national experts in the field of behavioral health. Emerging Scholars is committed to the cultivation of the next generation of advocates and experts and funds six months of independent research and public dissemination for up to six college-aged scholars each year. The research is as diverse as the students who pursue it. The Fellowship has been generously supported by the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Foundation.[5]

Send Silence Packing[edit]

Send Silence Packing is an exhibit of 1,100 backpacks representing the 1,100 college students who die by suicide every year. Active Minds Inc. has collected backpacks and personal stories in memory or in honor of individuals affected by suicide. By displaying backpacks with personal stories that put a ‘face' to lives lost to suicide, Send Silence Packing carries the message that preventing suicide is not just about lowering statistics, but about saving the flesh and blood lives of students, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, and friends across the nation.[6]

Contributions serve as a meaningful outlet for survivors' grief as well as a powerful way to raise awareness and work towards suicide prevention. The Send Silence Packing display was first hosted on the National Mall in Washington, DC in April 2008 with over 10,000 visitors and special guest speaker Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), and traveled to the University of Pennsylvania as a display at the annual Active Minds Conference in November 2008. The program is set to travel to college campuses, public spaces, and state house lawns over the next 24 months. The impactful exhibit puts a face to those lives and brings into scope the severity of suicide among college students, promoting a dialogue around suicide and mental health.

Active Minds Stress Less Week[edit]

The Active Minds Stress Less Week is a community-based stress relief and awareness program that seeks to curb the ever-increasing trend of stress among college students. Active Minds provides chapters and communities with Stress Relief Action Kits. Through activities like petting puppies from the local animal shelter to stomping bubble wrap and creating stress balls, Active Minds’ stress relief programming works to create supportive communities where speaking up about one’s struggles is a sign of strength and self-awareness.[7]

Active Minds Speakers Bureau[edit]

Active Minds Speakers Bureau provides positive examples of mental health by featuring young people who have dealt with their own mental health issues and encourages others to recognize and seek help for their own emotional difficulties.[8] Active Minds sees peer-to-peer contact as one of the most effective way to address stigma surrounding mental health disorders.

National Day Without Stigma (NDWS)[edit]

The National Day Without Stigma (NDWS) is Active Minds’ longest running awareness campaign and is held in the first week of October in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week. NDWS works to eliminate the shame and discrimination surrounding mental health disorders to create communities of understanding, support, and help-seeking.[9]

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week[edit]

More than 30 million people struggle with an eating disorder over the course of their lifetime, but only 1 in 10 seeks treatment. During National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, held annually in February, Active Minds works to change those statistics. Active Minds' online Action Kit equips chapters and communities with the warning signs and treatment options. The kits carry the message that you don’t have to be an expert to help someone. You just need to be there.[10]


  1. ^ Lewin, Tamar (April 25, 2007). "From Brother's Death, a Crusade". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  2. ^ "About Active Minds". Active Minds. 
  3. ^ "Active Minds Chapters". Active Minds. 
  4. ^ "Active Minds National Conference". Active Minds. 
  5. ^ "Emerging Scholars Fellowship". Active Minds. 
  6. ^ "Active Minds Send Silence Packing". Active Minds. 
  7. ^ "Active Minds Stress Less Week". Active Minds. 
  8. ^ "Active Minds Speakers Bureau". Active Minds. 
  9. ^ "National Day Without Stigma". Active Minds. 
  10. ^ "National Eating Disorders Awareness Week". Active Minds. 

External links[edit]