Active Minds Speaker
Alison Malmon defines herself as a sister first. When her big brother Brian died by suicide during her freshman year of college, Alison was devastated – and was left with more questions than answers. Why him? Why hadn’t she known how much he was struggling?
Turning tragedy into action, she started a group on her campus at the University of Pennsylvania to give students like herself the platform and tools to change the conversation about mental health. Now, more than 15 years later, Alison has cultivated that small student group into the internationally recognized nonprofit organization, Active Minds.
Alison shares her story to inspire others to speak out and be heard, to not suffer in silence, and to help fight the stigma surrounding mental illness, and continues to inspire audiences with her story and calls to action.
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During her first year in college, Alison Malmon’s brother Brian died by suicide after a long and silent struggle with schizoaffective disorder. Searching for answers, Alison looked for a student organization on her campus that was talking about mental health. Finding none, she started her own. Today, with more than 400 campus chapters, a dozen widely acclaimed national awareness and advocacy programs, and a network of more than 15,000 students, staff, and community volunteers, Active Minds has become the young adult voice in mental health.
As its Executive Director, Alison has led Active Minds, Inc. for over 15 years. While dispelling the myths, fear and shame that surround people who struggle with their mental health, Alison mobilizes communities to take action and join the mental health movement. She has been recognized by the Association of University Women as a Woman of Distinction; has been named one of the “Top 15 Global Emerging Social Innovators” by Ashoka and American Express; and been named Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine. She has received the Destigmatization Award from the National Council of Behavioral Healthcare; Tipper Gore Remember the Children Award from Mental Health America; and more. Alison has been profiled as a “Person You Should Know” on CNN, and in stories in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Inside Higher Ed, and Glamour Magazine. In addition to her work at Active Minds, Alison serves on advisory boards for the Crisis Text Line, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Elijah’s Journey: The Jewish Response to Suicide, and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
Alison is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and has been Executive Director of Active Minds, Inc. in Washington, DC since founding it in 2003. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three daughters.
- Faculty/Staff Trainings
- Stigma Reduction
- Suicide Prevention
- Workplace Mental Health
Alison's Presentation Options
Alison’s presentation traces her happy childhood, growing up with her smart and funny big brother Brian, whom she adored, regarding him as her other half, to the moment when Brian died by suicide during her freshman year of college. Alison explains how she turned tragedy into action, by starting a group on her campus at the University of Pennsylvania and cultivating it to become the internationally recognized nonprofit organization, Active Minds.
This 60 minute workshop offers students and faculty the opportunity to learn about and discuss how to start and grow an Active Minds chapter.
This speaker is available to participate in panels, round-table discussions, and uniquely tailored workshops.
Alison offers virtual versions of her presentations and workshops.
Mental wellness is a key component to a healthy, sustainable, and productive workforce. Learn how to have safe and respectful conversations with your employees and cultivate a culture that supports employee mental health.
Learning Objectives for Workforces:
- Discuss how mental health and well-being of employees economically and culturally impact the workplace.
- Explore the makeup of the emerging generation of the workforce, demographics, key values (including mental health and wellbeing).
- Identify ways to promote a positive work environment that maximizes productivity, creativity, and loyalty to your company.
- Learn tangible steps towards supporting the wellbeing of your workforce (demonstrate your support of mental health, involve the stakeholders in uncovering solutions, etc.) and hiring and retaining employees with mental health challenges.
Learn more at activeminds.org/atwork.
Alison travels from Colorado
Active Minds Blog - Alison Malmon
“20 years and four days since I last heard his voice. 20 years, one week and a day since I last saw him. We were two college students just trying to figure out our places in this world, together. My brother, Brian, was wickedly smart, had an amazing, dry wit, an unexpectedly low bass singing voice, a terrible layup, and was a great friend. He made you laugh, challenged what you knew or thought you knew, and just made you feel good. He was my other half. And then all of a sudden, I was alone.”
“There is no “us” and “them” — one in four Americans has a diagnosable mental health condition. If it’s not ourselves, then it’s someone we love. Half of us will struggle with at least one mental illness in our lifetime. That’s a lot of people, very few of whom will ever have a violent thought, but if they do, are far more likely to hurt themselves than someone else.
To admit you have a mental illness and do something about it is one of the bravest things a person can do. So when we talk about mental illness in the wake of these tragedies, we need to talk and take action in a way that helps rather than hurts. There is enough hurt.”
“But gymnasts, like tennis players, and football players, and CEOs, and teachers, and parents, are not robots, they are human. And when Simone Biles pulled herself out of the Olympics on Monday, with the world’s eyes on her, she showed us that we all have permission to be human. That sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves and the people around us is to know that it’s okay to not be okay, and we don’t have to be perfect.”
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