Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Organization: Active Minds

So, again, I’m flipping through my sibling loss file, and I come across something amazing, in this case, a profile of Alison Malmon. When she was a freshman in college, Alison’s 22-year-old brother, Brian, who was on leave from college, committed suicide.

After his death, Alison realized that Brian, who was a star on campus, both for his accomplishments (sports editor of the paper, president of an a cappella group, and a 3.7 gpa, among other accomplishments) had been hiding a terrible secret: he’d been hearing voices for years.

“I firmly believe that Brian took his life because he didn’t know how to live with mental illness,” said Malman, in the New York Times article. In her junior year, Malmon started an organization called Open Minds, designed to raise awareness about mental illness on college campuses. At the first meeting, three people showed up. But she persevered.

In 2003, Malmon graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, incorporated her organization, now called Active Minds, and became the youngest recipient of the Tipper Gore Remember the Children Award from the National Mental Health Association. At the time of the article (2007), she’s just gotten a $100,000 grant from somewhere else to do outreach.

“The goal is a chapter on every campus, but more realistic is that we’ll have about 300 chapters in the next three years,” she said in the NYT. Check out the organization’s website at

And fyi, for those familiar with my sibling loss lingo, this is a beautiful example of carrying. For those not familiar with it, search the blog for an explanation

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