Category Archives: Advocacy

5 Facebook Giving Campaign Success Stories

Found this story on Mashable a few days ago, and thought people would find it interesting. Written by Sarah Kessler, it highlights five great organizations who used Facebook to create fundraising campaigns. What do you think of these campaigns? Had you heard of them before?

Article5 Facebook Giving Campaign Success Stories.


Motivation, I finally found you!

“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.” ~ Bo Bennett

Office Space

I thought that photo would give you all a laugh.  Fortunately, I do care (and I’m not lazy…at least I don’t think I am).

However, it’s often hard to find the right source of inspiration when you’re “self-employed” and don’t have deadlines that are set in stone.  I won’t lie – I’ve been struggling with this since setting out to work on my own.  However, in the past week I’ve realized what truly motivates me: the people I surround myself with.

Last week I started working with an incredible organization, BringChange2Mind (BC2M) – an organization I’ve mentioned here before.  BC2M was co-founded by Glenn Close, the actress from 101 Dalmatians and Damages.  Oh, and if you clicked on the link to the 101 Dalmatians video, I’m sure you’ll agree that the clip gives you the creeps!  But, I can assure you, Glenn is a very nice woman and extremely down to earth – no one to be afraid of!

Alright, now this is me getting to my point…

…I just got off the phone with the core group of volunteers for the organization, and realized that the call was something that motivated me.  No, it wasn’t the fact that I had a phone call.  It wasn’t that I rarely receive calls and this excited me.  I was motivated because of the people on the call and the huge level of energy in the conversation!  I realized then and there that, by surrounding myself with energetic people – individuals who share similar passions and put a huge amount of time/effort into the cause – was a gigantic motivator!  This has happened on a few calls I’ve been on with some BC2M volunteers.  It’s also happened on calls that I’ve had with Active Minds staff/students.

Now that I’ve figured out what motivates me, I actually have to do some work, so I guess that’s it for now!

College students are still struggling…

“The percentage of students with moderate to severe depression rose from 34% to 41%” ~ Shari Roan, More college students are afflicted with severe mental illness

…But was that really a surprise?  Nope.  What is surprising is the fact that many people still won’t accept this fact.

Here’s a quick story for you that I was told by a good friend from my Active Minds chapter: about two years ago during an Active Minds at UConn event, we were handing out yellow ribbons to raise awareness about suicide prevention.  Hundreds of students came by to get the ribbons which they would later pin to their bags.  On multiple occasions, people stopped by the booth to grab a yellow ribbon.  As they took the ribbon, they asked what it represented.  As soon as they were told it was to commemorate those who lost their lives to suicide and spread awareness about suicide, they immediately gave the ribbon back and walked away.

When I was told this story by my fellow students who were helping me run the booth, I was disappointed for many reasons (but I’ll only share one).  Whether all these students may or may not realize it, they’ve been affected by suicide.  They might have been directly affected by the suicide of a family member or close friend, or it could have been a “friend of a friend”, etc. They have been touched by a suicide.  If not suicide, they know people who struggle with a mental illness.

Anyways, if you get a chance to read Roan’s story in the Los Angeles Times, you’ll see that the number of students who said they suffered from suicidal ideations within two weeks of counseling fell between 1998 and 2009, from 26% to 11%. This is encouraging news.  As the story suggests, this decrease might stem from “improvements in suicide prevention and counseling outreach on college campuses”.  This leads me to believe that programs like Active Minds really are helping.  The organization is successfully spreading the word about mental health and the numerous resources available to college students who are in need.  Let’s give a big round of applause to Active Minds for this – they certainly deserve it! Oh, they were also mentioned in the article I’ve been referring to today – so let’s at least give them a hand for that…

So, how do we change other people’s perspective about mental health?  How can we bring those people who are still in the dark and afraid to talk about “how they feel” into the light?  I think it’s time to revolutionize the way we talk about mental illnesses…any ideas?  I’ve got some of my own, but I’d love to hear yours first.  Leave them in the comments section below!

P.S. this post was written while laying on my comfy hammock back in CT.  Here’s proof:

Another Voice

My first guest blogger is Marc Peters, a good friend, fellow mental health advocate, and a former Chapters Coordinator of Active Minds.

I never thought that mental health would be the issue around which I would center my advocacy. I went into college with the ambition of becoming a sports journalist. Even as the bloom came off that rose,  I moved in quick succession to straight journalism with the desire to expose hypocrisy in power then onto establishing my credentials as a feminist working to prevent sexual and domestic violence. After growing as a feminist (something I never abandoned), I joined a group working toward racial equality and I also started mentoring area high school students. There really wasn’t an issue that I didn’t take on. I didn’t question where the drive was coming from…it was just there. Even after I learned that my boundless energy was derived from mania and then psychosis, it didn’t keep me from returning to my favorite causes post-psychotic episode, hospital stay and recovery. I just moved on, wishing and hoping and praying that my classmates would begin to forget that it ever happened. I certainly wasn’t going to raise awareness about mental health on campus, I was hiding.

It wasn’t until I started writing about my experience and truly processing it that I began to take ownership of what happened to me. It was then I realized that I had something to offer all those students who would struggle with mental health issues like me in the years to follow. I didn’t have anyone to look to as a model of coping, as a model of success. I was going to make sure that they didn’t go through that. Still I was passive in my activism. I would talk to and informally counsel (for lack of a better word) anyone who was going through any variation of what I experienced, be it depression or mania or something in between.

My original plan was to go to graduate school for creative nonfiction writing and publish a book about my experience, but I got too wrapped up in the Obama campaign and my role as national student blog director. After he won,  I knew I wouldn’t be happy hiding on campus for three or four years. I needed to be doing something. I started to apply to jobs and was thrilled when Active Minds hired me. I got to help students learn about mental health. I had the opportunity to teach them how to organize on their campuses. I got to facilitate all the things I was too broken to do when I was in school. It was hard though. At first I wouldn’t let myself get invested because I didn’t want to make myself vulnerable. These issues were deeply personal to me and it was hard to maintain a healthy distance without becoming ineffectual at my job. Eventually I said, “Screw it.” and just dove in. It was great. For a while. But then came a severe depressive episode and it’s hard to think abstractly about preventing suicide when your thoughts are dominated by ways to commit suicide.  Eventually I couldn’t walk the line anymore. I decided to go back to my first (or maybe tenth) love, politics.

I burned out. After one year. That’s why people like Jeremy are so important. I admire the work he did as a student with Active Minds, both on his campus and as a national leader in our organization. The thing that always stood out to me was that Jeremy doesn’t have a mental illness. He’s not what is called a “stakeholder” in the mental health debate. He’s just a caring individual who witnessed a friend suffering and decided he couldn’t sit on the sidelines. If we are ever going to have an open, honest and productive conversation about mental health in this country that moves us closer to acceptance and further away from stigma, we are going to need a lot more people like Jeremy.

We need people who are willing to step up and advocate for a cause that doesn’t have a direct effect on their life. We need people who can join voices with people with mental health disorders and become an effective team to advocate for change. I always felt a duty to be an advocate because I’ve met a lot of people with mental illnesses who aren’t fortunate enough to be as healthy as me. They can’t advocate, so I did. I reached my limit though. I reached a breaking point. Part of the reason I could walk away without feeling like I was letting my community down is because there are people out there like Jeremy who can make this issue personal without having to deal with it on a day-to-day basis on a personal basis. I trust this guy and his peers with the future of a movement that holds a special place in my heart.

So while I appreciate you reading Jeremy’s blog and acknowledge that you are educating yourself, I need you to do more. I need you to get involved. I need you to speak up. Because sometimes I just can’t. Sometimes it just hurts too much.

Thanks for reading,


Marc Peters is a mental health advocate and blogs about living with bipolar disorder at

2 Million Calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline!

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK

“When written in Chinese the word “crisis” is composed of two characters
one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” ~ John F. Kennedy

Today, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is celebrating their 2 millionth call into their crisis hotline.  To commemorate this day, they’ve asked bloggers all over the internet to change their colors to green and add their logo (to the left).

So, what is the Suicide Prevention Lifeline? As stated on their site, “The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. By dialing 1-800-273-TALK, the call is routed to the nearest crisis center in our national network of more than 140 crisis centers. The Lifeline’s national network of local crisis centers, provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals day and night.”

This is an amazing feat – having 2 million people call into the help center means that they knew and understood what they were going through.  They recognized that they needed a helping hand, and reached out for that help.  Imagine if everyone in need of help called into the Suicide Lifeline – we could be celebrating the 5 millionth caller today.

Although 2 million callers have utilized their services, there are still millions of other people out there struggling.  Not everyone is aware of the Lifeline, which is why we need to keep promoting them.  If you, or someone you know, is EVER in need, please call 1-800-273-TALK and you can visit their website.

Jordan Burnham on CNN 5/20/2010

I also want to take today to congratulate my friend and fellow advocate, Jordan Burnham.  Jordan is a 20 year-old college student who attempted suicide a few years ago by jumping out of his bedroom…nine-stories high.  Thankfully he made it through and is recovering, but not without injuries.  I won’t go into too many details, because you should hear them straight from him.  Check out his amazing interview with CNN’s Tony Harris here.

What do you think of the interview?  Leave your comments below!

Mental Health Month Blog Party: Sorry I’m (Fashionably) Late

Blogging for #mhm2010!

“Having good mental health helps you make better decisions and deal with daily stressors at home, at work, and in your family.” ~ APA’s description of mental health on their blog

Not only am I blogging for mental health month, I’m blogging for mental health in general.  As most of you who have been reading my blog know, posting about mental health is not – and will never be – a one time event!

I have dedicated my life (and blog) to standing up for people who live with mental health concerns.  People don’t need to suffer in silence and, in fact, should never do so.  No one should ever live in fear of talking about their mental illness with their family in friends – they should do so with the utmost confidence.

The following might seem off-topic, but I hopefully you’ll see what I’m getting at towards the end:

How many people do you think experience a mental health disorder every year in the U.S.?

  • 1 in 25
  • 1 in 10
  • 1 in 8
  • 1 in 4

Think about this, 1 in 4 Americans experiences a mental health disorder every year, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.  So let’s say you pass by a total of 40 people on your way to and from work everyday.  That means that approximately 10 of those people you pass by – probably on a daily basis –  live with a mental health disorder.

So, why not try something new?  Instead of merely nodding, smiling, or ignoring those people, say hi!  Have a quick verbal interaction with them. Give them a compliment.  Most people underestimate how powerful a compliment can be.  Just by saying “Nice haircut” or “Cool new bag”, you can greatly lift someone’s mood and help them have an amazing day!  It makes anyone feel cared for and remember that there are always people out there who are willing and able to help them.  It reminds people of the family they love, the friends they have, and the mere acquaintances who they interact with on a daily basis.

Is there someone you see on a daily basis that you typically ignore or forget to say “hi” to?  Who is it?  Will you start changing the way you interact with them? Leave your comments below!

Celebs Lending Their Voice

“Why is mental disease the only illness you can get yelled at for having?” ~ Harrison Ford, Actor

 It’s very rare to see celebrities speak out about mental health.  Whether it’s a personal story of growing up with a mental health issue, a family member or a friend that struggles with such a problem, or they are just interested in the cause, celebrities are starting to take notice to this cause.

Joey Pantoliano, an actor and Founder of No Kidding, Me Too! (NKM2) and Glenn Close, actress and Founder of Bring Change 2 Mind (BC2M) are two such celebrities who have not only spoken about their personal struggles with mental health, but have actively done something about their experiences.  Starting an organization is no easy task (just ask Alison Malmon, Founder and Executive Director of Active Minds, Inc. – the nation’s only organization utilizing the college student’s voice to de-stigmatize mental health), and running it on top of many other commitments makes it even harder.  However, there are many ways celebrities can get involved besides starting another organization focused on mental health (or any other cause for that matter).

Joey Pantoliano began NKM2 after suffering from depression for a number of years.  He has brought an incredible team of celebrities together on his Advisory Board, including Samuel L. Jackson, Harrison Ford, and Jeff Bridges.

Emmy-award winning (and three-time Oscar nominated) actress Glenn Close has also lent her fame and voice for an incredible organization, BC2M.  The organization began about a year ago and stemmed from her sister’s diagnosis with Bipolar disorder.

So, what can other celebrities do to help out the cause?  Public Service Announcements (PSAs) have become a very popular way for organizations to get their message out.  Not only has NKM2! launched a PSA – shown above – with well-known actors such as Harrison Ford, Anthony Edwards (Dr. Greene from E.R.), and other celebrities, but the Trevor Project just launched a PSA with the star from the Harry Potter movies, Daniel Radcliffe – you can watch it here.  Lastly, Glenn Close, Ron Howard, and John Mayer teamed up to create a PSA for BC2M (shown below)

The fact that these celebrities are lending their time, fame, talent, and (let’s face it) good looks, speaks volumes about the mental health field.  While people are finally starting to wake up and “smell the coffee”, there is a lot of work to be done!  Can you think of other ways celebrities can help out the mental health field?  Leave a comment below!

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