Ross Szabo

Ross was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth…Pennsylvania. Believe it or not Nazareth is right next to Bethlehem and doesn’t have a hospital, so it’s a pretty common thing. Ross also likes to sing songs he doesn’t know the words to, which is just about every song other than “Nuthin But a G Thang.” He loves to put chips on sandwiches and is a phenomenal car dancer. He also likes learning about the brain, running and cooking over fire.

Aside from these things, Ross was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 16. He went through the hell of living with the disorder fully experiencing the mania, depression, hallucinations, anger and major self-medication with alcohol that unfortunately can come along with it. He was hospitalized for attempting to take his own life during his senior year of high school and was forced to take a leave of absence 2 months into his freshman year at American University. Luckily, he was able to find a way to manage his issues, and to this day, is still learning new ways to deal with them. At age 17, he started speaking about his experiences with bipolar disorder in order to help raise awareness about mental health issues. He has spoken to over 1 million people.

Ross is an award winning speaker, trainer, writer and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Botswana. As the former Director of Outreach for the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign, Ross pioneered a new genre of speaking and created a training program to empower the next generation of mental health advocates. He received the 2010 Didi Hirsch Removing the Stigma Leadership Award, 2012 Minding Your Mind Changing Minds Award, 2007 Campus Activities Best Male Performer Award and had his advocacy work entered into the Congressional Record. He has reached millions in wide ranging media appearances and is a blogger for Huffington Post.

In general, he is a kick-ass mental health advocate who works as hard as he can to spread a positive message about mental health issues beyond the mental health field. He lives in Venice, CA.

Melanie Hall

Melanie is a pioneer of social media networks for young people and creator/producer of the “Face The Issue campaign about mental health.  Appearing on many television and online networks, the campaign was recognized by the Prism Awards and featured A-list celebrities including Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson and Halle Berry, among others.  She resides in Los Angeles, California.