What is Active Minds at USC?

Active Minds at USC is a student run non-profit organization that promotes mental health awareness, education, and advocacy. The group is designed to utilize peer outreach in conjunction with the counseling center to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues and symptoms of mental illness, provide information about available resources, encourage students to seek help as soon as help is needed, and to serve as a liaison between students and the mental health community. By promoting awareness and education, Active Minds at USC aims to reduce stigma that surrounds mental illness and create an open environment for discussion of mental health issues.


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. There are no dues associated with being a member of Active Minds lest it create a barrier to membership for any individual.


Active Minds was introduced by a junior from the University of Pennsylvania named Alison Malmon. Alison decided to create this group in 2001 after her older brother committed suicide. Brian Malmon was suffering from depression and psychosis for three years, without the knowledge of anyone who was close to him. After telling his family and seeking treatment for his struggles (it was later diagnosed as schizo-affective disorder), Brian committed suicide during his senior year in college. A year later Alison dedicated her life to spreading awareness about mental health issues to prevent futures situations similar to her brother’s. Momentum for Active Minds began to grow after the first year it was established, and the organization began to reach other colleges and universities. In 2003 a headquarters was developed in Washington D.C. and Open Minds (as it was initially called) was renamed to Active Minds to reflect the progress of the mental health movement.


We do not diagnose or treat any illness. We are not mental health professionals, but we can refer you to qualified services and providers.

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