Sunday, November 9, 2014

Active Minds

The suicide rate rose 2% last year and is the 2nd leading cause of death in college students in America. But thanks to an organization started by Alison Malmon at the University of Pennsylvania called Active Minds, this organization fights the stigma of mental illness on college campuses.

On the campuses each year 1,100 back packs are placed on a large section of lawn. They are placed there to lure passersby. Each back pack represents a student who took his life and each one has a story to tell. Active Minds has over 400 chapters across the nation that do this each year on campuses.

One student said, “The back packs are symbolic of what you carry around in life.”

No one wants to talk about it which is part of the problem, according to Alison. Her brother, Brian, committed suicide his senior year in college. He was mentally ill and, although he was able to conceal it, according to Alison, he thought there was no one else who had his problems and nowhere to turn.

On the campuses, Active Mind members meet weekly or biweekly to plan events to raise awareness and issues of mental health and available resources that promote an open dialogue around the issues and serve as a liaison between students and the mental health community. Common events include: Mental Health Awareness Week, campaigns, panel discussions, movie screenings, Stomp Out Stigma runs and stress relief activities during final exams. Counseling centers usually have all the information a student would need.

Alison believes the high-stress environment of college life makes students especially vulnerable to developing problems. Her goal is to bring public awareness to this serious problem. She wants others to know that help is always available. She is certain that by doing this, the organization is saving lives. She hopes more and more people will ask for help through this organization. Visit  for additional information.  

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