Frequently Asked Questions

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Getting Help

Mental Illness and Stigma

Active Minds


  • Who do I contact if I or someone I know needs immediate help? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifefline at 1-800-273-TALK (more information is available at, who will then connect you with Crisis Centers in your area. 

  • What is mental illness? Mental illnesses are psychological and behavioral patterns that are associated with emotional suffering or disability (i.e. impaired functioning), loss of freedom (i.e. incarceration from criminal offenses), and increased mortality. These conditions are considered to arise from a biological, behavioral, or psychological dysfunction within the individual. 

  • What is stigma? According to the 2003 President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, stigma refers to a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illness. Stigma is widespread in the United States and other western nations. Stigma leads others to avoid living, socializing, or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders.
  • What is Active Minds? Active Minds is the nation’s only nonprofit organization dedicated to utilizing the student voice to raise mental health awareness among college students. The organization develops and supports student-run chapters on colleges and university campuses that promote a dialogue around issues of mental health and educate the entire student body about available resources in and around the campus community. 

  • Is Active Minds peer support? No, Active Minds chapters do not serve as peer support groups. Student members advertise existing professional services, and help students know when those professional resources may be needed. Meetings of Active Minds are planning meetings, allowing members time to plan educational events on campus such as panel discussions, movie screenings, and benefit runs. The chapters do often become support networks for members, creating a place where student advocates know that others may share similar experiences. 

  • What is the relationship between an Active Minds chapter and its college/ university?  Like most college student groups, Active Minds chapters are officially registered with the Student Activities Council (or similarly named entity) on their respective campuses, so receive funding and resources from the institution’s Office of Student Life. As well, each Active Minds chapter has a staff or faculty advisor who is affiliated with the college or university. Most advisors come from the school’s Counseling Center; many are either the Director or Outreach Coordinator. Advisors often also come from the psychology faculty, nursing school, or school of social work. Regardless of from where the advisor comes, Active Minds chapters forge relationships with their school’s counseling services. Active Minds, in a sense, does outreach for campus’ mental health services. 

  • How does an Active Minds chapter function on a campus? Active Minds members meet weekly or biweekly to plan events on their campus that raise awareness about issues of mental health and available resources; that promote an open, enlightened 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, flyering campus, and stress-relief activities during final exams. Chapters run anywhere from one to ten events per semester, depending on the strength of the chapter. All chapters also frequently “table” – place pamphlets and brochures from the Counseling Center, NIMH, and other mental health agencies – in a location accessible to students in a central part of campus. 

  • Who are Active Minds’ members? Active Minds’ members come from a variety of backgrounds and have varied interests in mental health. Many are students who are living with a mental health disorder, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, or an eating disorder. Others are friends or family of people who live with a disorder; others still are survivors of a friend or family member’s suicide. Many members of Active Minds are simply students with an interest in issues of mental health, including psychology, nursing, or social work students. Membership is by no means limited to students who live with a mental health disorder; it is inclusive of everyone who wants to be involved. 

  • How are chapters started? Chapters are started in any number of ways. The key players in the formation of a chapter include a dedicated student (or group of students), a staff or faculty member to serve in an advisory role, and a relationship with someone in the Counseling Center, if the staff/faculty advisor is not in the Center. If you are interested in starting a chapter, please visit our Start a New Chapter page and complete an interest form.  The Chapters Team at the national office will then serve as a resource to developing and existing chapters. Once your chapter is officially recognized as a student group on campus, you may register as a chapter of Active Minds.

  • What does Active Minds offer other than its campus chapters? Active Minds’ programs extend beyond its network of campus chapters. Along with a comprehensive website that serves as a clearinghouse of information on college mental health (, the organization annually hosts a national Mental Health on Campus Conference in the fall for its student advocates and other supporters. In April of each year, Active Minds rolls out a National Stress Out Day program with the Anxiety Disorders Association of America and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, to ease the stress surrounding final exams and the end of the year. Through its national partnerships, Active Minds also makes a variety of programs available to its chapter network, including speakers through the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign, a free copy of American Foundation of Suicide Prevention’s video The Truth About Suicide: Real Stories of Depression in College, Jed Foundation’s ULifeline and Mental Health America’s mpower program, and materials from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 

  • Why Active Minds? College students are at high risk for developing mental illness, as many illnesses first present at the college age. Pair that with the high-stress environment of college life and the fact that many young adults are on their own for the first time, and students are especially vulnerable to developing problems with their mental health. In a 2006 study by the American College Health Association, nearly half of all college students reported having felt so depressed in the past year they couldn’t function. While it is clear that students are suffering, it is not nearly as clear to students and friends that it is okay to talk about these issues, and that resources are available for those who need professional help. While students are the main line of defense, they are often the last to be heard. Active Minds works on the level of the students to educate the entire campus about mental health, so students who are first experiencing symptoms understand what they are going through, know its not their fault, and get the help they need; so students know how to talk to friends about whom they’re worried and how to get them into professional help; and so those students who are living with a mental health disorder don’t feel alone. Active Minds works with hundreds of students on campuses every year to build a new generation of leaders who are more in tune with their mental health and the needs of others who live everyday with mental health disorders. 

  • What is Active Minds’ history? Read about our history here .

  • What is your federal tax ID #? 20-0587172


  • Ashleigh Morris from Active Minds at SUNY at Old Westbury says:

    ashleighmorris"The chapter members took me in like I was their sister and have become my second family. They have saved my life for the better and I don't know how I am ever going to repay them.