Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Changing the Conversation about Mental Health on New York State College Campuses

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

April 1, 2010


Outside New York State





A mental health disorder epidemic is sweeping America’s college campuses, with approximately 1,100 suicides among college students reported every year.

The New York State Office of Mental Health reports that more than 122,000 college students in New York State seriously consider suicide each year, with almost 89,000 formulating a suicide plan, and more than 22,000 making a suicide attempt. Mental health services on campuses are often underused, with students often needing some kind of bridge to access them. To fulfill this need, Active Minds establishes student-run campus chapters of mental health education groups to increase awareness of mental health issues and resources, as well as decrease stigma. These chapters work with on-campus counseling services to promote understanding of mental health problems, encourage early help-seeking, and provide information about available resources on campus, online, and in the community. In May 2010, NYHealth awarded a grant to Active Minds to expand its reach to 10 additional campuses in New York State and to create its first statewide network.

Although most colleges have mental health services on campus, they are often underutilized. For example, data reveal that two-thirds of students with suicidal thoughts tell their friends before anyone else, but their friends often do not know what to do or how to access help. Active Minds provides that bridge by establishing student-run chapters of mental health education groups on campuses that increase awareness of mental health issues and resources, and decrease stigma.

This grant would scale up a successful program to bring mental health education to more of New York’s college students. Active Minds has already established chapters on 16 different college campuses in New York that range from community colleges to Ivy League universities, and are located in different geographic regions throughout the State. The project will expand Active Minds to 10 additional campuses statewide and bolster the strength of its existing student-run mental health awareness chapters in the State. By reaching nearly 10% of New York’s college students, it will create a critical mass of chapters to become the first statewide network of mental health outreach programs based on college campuses.