Ross Szabo is a social innovator who has pioneered the youth mental health movement. He is the CEO of Human Power Project, a company that designs mental health curriculum and a board member for the Flawless Foundation. He is an award-winning speaker, author and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.
Ross turned a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with anger control problems and psychotic features at age 16 into an opportunity to educate others. His natural ability to make mental health approachable for large groups of people has led to countless media appearances and articles.
Ross has spoken to more than 1.5 million people about the importance of mental health and provided a positive example to empower them to seek help. During his 8 years as Director of the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign, he created the first national youth mental health speakers’ bureau in the country that is now a part of Active Minds. The speakers’ bureau has reached millions of people.
Over 70,000 students are utilizing human Power Project’s first curriculum titled, Behind Happy Faces. The curriculum is used at numerous colleges including; Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, Oregon State University and UC Irvine. Behind Happy Faces is also used at top private schools, public school districts and was featured at Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Retreat.
Active Minds is the leading nonprofit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. The national nonprofit is changing the culture at schools and in the community by providing information, leadership opportunities and advocacy training to the next generation.
By developing and supporting chapters of a student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy group on campuses nationwide, Active Minds works to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues, provide information and resources regarding mental health and mental illness, encourage students to seek help as soon as it is needed, and serve as liaison between students and the mental health community.
Active Minds was founded in 2003 by Alison Malmon following the suicide of her only sibling, her twenty-two year old brother Brian Malmon. Wanting to combat the stigma that had caused her brother to suffer in silence and ultimately take his own life, she created a group on her campus at the University of Pennsylvania that promoted an open, enlightened dialogue around the issues. Just after graduating, Alison formed the 501(c)3 organization in order to develop and support chapters of the student group at schools around the country. She has since served as Executive Director of the non-profit, leading the organization as it annually engages tens of thousands of student leaders nationwide and promotes a unified national voice for young adults in the mental health awareness movement.