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"Alison Malmon Changes the Conversation about Mental Health"

Alison Malmon Changes the Conversation about Mental Health

The Huffington Post, 2013

In spring 2000, as she was finishing her freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania, Alison Malmon received the devastating news that her beloved brother and only sibling, Brian, had died by suicide. A shining star at Columbia University before mental illness forced him to take a leave of absence, Brian had been struggling with depression for several years.

Wanting to combat the stigma that had caused her brother to suffer in silence and ultimately take his own life, Alison created a group on her campus to encourage open dialogue around mental health issues. The first meeting drew only three students—but in the twelve years since then it has evolved into the national mental health advocacy organization Active Minds, the nation's leading organization dedicated to empowering students to speak openly about mental health issues.

With a presence on more than 350 college campuses, Active Minds engages thousands of students nationwide in mental health awareness programs. Alison continues to lead the organization as its executive director and maintains a busy schedule of speaking engagements, during which she talks as a survivor of a family suicide and as an advocate for erasing the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Alison graduated from Cornell University Summer College in 1998, after attending the Individual in the Social World program, and from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003.

Since then, she has won numerous awards, including Washingtonian of the Year (Washingtonian magazine), Citizen of the Year (Potomac Rotary Club), and Woman of Distinction (American Association of University Women and National Association of Student Personnel Administrators). She has been profiled as a "person you should know" on CNN and in stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, Glamour magazine, and ABC's Good Morning America.

 

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