Profile in Courage: Alison Malmon

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Alison Malmon knows the heartbreak of suicide first hand. Her older brother Brian committed suicide in March 2000 after struggling with untreated depression and psychosis throughout college. Brian did not seek help initially because of the stigma associated with mental illness. Malmon has said that Brian feared his mental illness.

A year and a half after her brother’s death, Malmon formed a student group at the University of Pennsylvania called “Active Minds.” She wanted to increase awareness of mental illness on college campuses and do it through students. Her belief was that students helping students would be less intimidating and encourage more students to seek treatment more quickly. And most importantly, students need to know they are not alone.

In an interview with Washingtonian Magazine, Malmon said, “I wanted to let people know they weren’t alone, that resources are available, that it’s okay to ask.”

Mental health statistics on college campuses are eye-opening:
• According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.
• One in ten college students has seriously considered suicide; 1,100 follow through every year.
• More than 40 percent of college students have felt so depressed they could not function, according to a 2006 American College Health Association report.

Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other illnesses typically show up in the late teens and early twenties.

After graduating from college, Malmon decided to follow her passion and incorporated Active Minds where, today, she is the executive director. In December the organization reached an important milestone – its 300th campus chapter was formed at SUNY Oswego in New York.

Active Minds has chapters in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, Canada, and Australia.

The organization serves as the largest resource for college students seeking to educate their peers about issues of mental health and mental illness. Active Minds has engaged more than 3,000 college student mental advocates and has reached hundreds of thousands of students with educational and awareness raising programming. To learn more, visit

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 407-215-2519 for more information.




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