New Student Group and YU Counseling Center Raise Awareness of Mental Health Issues on Campus

Alison Malmon, founder of Active Minds, speaks to students after the panel discussion.

Feb 8, 2008 — With rising national attention to the problem of depression on college campuses, Yeshiva University has taken a preventative and proactive stance toward students’ mental health.

“We take a multi-faceted approach, which includes increasing public awareness about depression and mental illness and providing quality mental health services on campus,” said Dr. Chaim Nissel, director of Yeshiva University Counseling Center. “We also train others in the Yeshiva community and beyond to be aware of the warning signs and refer students to the appropriate services.”

Now, YU students are getting involved. Yeshiva College junior Asher Morris established a local chapter of Active Minds on Campus, a student-run mental health education organization on college campuses, last November. The group aims to remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness and to create an open environment for discussion of mental health issues.

YU Active Minds hosted the organization’s founder and executive director Alison Malmon for an educational event, called “Perspective on Suicide: Mental Illness on College Campuses,” on February 5. After the screening of a documentary, “The Truth about Suicide,” Malmon participated in a panel discussion with Dr. Victor Schwartz, Yeshiva University dean of students, and Dr. Nissel.

Malmon discussed the life, mental illness, and eventual suicide of her older brother, Brian, as well as the importance of raising awareness about issues of mental health. She created Active Minds on Campus in 2001after realizing that little was being done on college campuses to help those suffering from depression and anxiety. Active Minds now has over 100 chapters across the country.

“Use this as an opportunity to watch out for your friends,” Malmon told the 70 students in attendance. “You have responsibility as a friend not to counsel others out of their issues, but to bring your friend to a professional.” She also encouraged students to share their own stories about mental illness in order to break the taboo surrounding suicide.

“It is reassuring that our community is seriously addressing an issue that has been swept under the carpet for far too long,” said Yeshiva College senior Noah Chesis.

For more information on Active Minds on Campus at YU, click here.

To learn more about the YU Counseling Center, click here.

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