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What is Active Minds?

Active Minds was founded in 2001 by Alison Malmon, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, following the suicide of her older brother Brian. Brian, also a college student, had been experiencing depression and psychosis for three years but had concealed his symptoms from everyone around him. In the middle of his senior year, he returned to the family’s Potomac, Maryland home and began receiving treatment for what was later diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder. A year and a half later on March 24, 2000, as Alison was wrapping up her freshman year at Penn, Brian ended his life.


Recognizing that few Penn students were talking about mental health issues though many were affected, Alison was motivated to change that culture on her campus. She wanted to combat the stigma of mental illness, encourage students who needed help to seek it early, and prevent future tragedies like the one that took her brother’s life. After searching unsuccessfully for existing groups that she could simply bring to her campus, Alison created her own model and formed what was then known as Open Minds.


After a great first year, Open Minds at Penn gained enough support that it expanded onto other campuses. Kate Hard dedicated her first year as a Georgetown University transfer student to bringing the Penn program, and mental health awareness, to her new campus. She founded the second chapter of Active Minds at Georgetown in fall 2002, which gained the same momentum and support as the Penn chapter had. Growth continued and the national headquarters was established in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 2003. The new non-profit organization, and all of the affiliated campus chapters, was then renamed Active Minds, Inc.


Active Minds was incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization in late 2003. There are over 100 active college campus chapters and thousands of young adults across the country are benefiting from the Active Minds model.



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-Taken from Active Minds National Website