What to Expect at the 2024 Active Minds Mental Health Conference

Blake Matthews
Blake Matthews

The Active Minds Mental Health Conference is unlike any other. I had the privilege of helping to plan the conference as part of the Student Advisory Committee in 2022 and 2023, though I still walked in like it was my first time. The culture at the conference was incredible, and I left feeling seen and heard by my peers and other industry leaders. As a result of my time at the Conference, I have had many opportunities and abilities to use my voice for change through networking with other mental health leaders. Now, I’m looking forward to attending the Active Minds “Be the Change” Mental Health Conference in the summer of 2024, and I hope you’ll join me!

Last year’s conference was nearly non-stop from 9 AM until 6 PM on both days, with options for autonomy through attending various breakout rooms, self-care spaces, and, of course, the massive amount of free goodies and merchandise. Everyone from Active Minds ,including members, leaders, interested students, mental health industry experts, and alums, attended the conference. I remember deciding to sit down at a random table for lunch, and my peers instantly brought me into the conversation. Still, my favorite moments were the various speakers.

At the conference, I interacted with Em Beihold, a pop singer and songwriter who performed her viral song, “Numb Little Bug,” for us. I had no idea she was a friend of Active Minds, which was an incredible surprise! During the breakout sessions, Maddie of NoSo November shocked me as I learned about my social media usage and decided to pledge to take a social media detox. I also found comfort in Ivy Henson’s presentation of leadership transition, as it gave me the tools to prepare for building my own Active Minds Chapter. Everytown’s breakout room, where panelists discussed the impact of gun violence on youth mental health, was heavy, though impactful, in the conversation resulting from it. I found community in my peers who shared my values. Not to mention Dr. Tina Dole of 988, who led a fascinating and powerful conversation about the impact of crisis lines and the goal to expand. There were moments at the conference where I laughed and others where I teared up. The conversations were powerful and have stayed with me as I prepare for graduate school. I look forward to visiting all new mental health speakers and breakout rooms at the 2024 Conference, as I wish I could have visited all of them last year. 

I remember the end of the first day in 2023; I instantly called my mom to ramble about all the topics I had learned and found relatable to my life. I left on a high, wishing it was longer and planning to attend annually for as long as possible. In addition to the amazing expert speakers, I’m also excited about the Active Minds Chapter Social Hour, as the Student Advisory Committee has just begun thinking of its ideas. Last year, our social hour was fun and allowed me to gain a personal connection with some of our chapters’ leaders. I still keep in touch with a few of those I connected with at the social hour. 

While there is much to do at the Conference, I advise attendees to be mindful of their experience. Let yourself and your intentions lead you into which breakout rooms you want to attend and which people you want to connect more with. If you are overwhelmed, consider finding a private space to dim the lights and breathe for a moment before returning, or utilize headphones if it gets too loud for you (I did, too, and people never thought twice about it!). And if you have questions, ask them. It is okay if you get lost and need directions. I did, too, at first! Active Minds staff are always easily found and available for questions or directions. There will be infinite ways to speak your voice and get involved with the conversation, though it is okay if you need to be silent, too. And most importantly, have fun. I can’t wait to see you there.