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David Romano    

Mental Health Activist

When David Romano began to feel the early symptoms of depression in middle school, he thought everyone felt that way, and that it was part of growing up. When he reached tenth grade and depression turned into a sense of darkness enveloping him, David assumed that he was failing everyone, including himself, and that he wasn’t the man he was supposed to be.

The popular student and multi-sport athlete tried to maintain his outward image as the fun, goofy kid, and used sports and other activities to cover his inner struggle. A mental health checklist he read in health class shone a light on his symptoms, and he began a treatment plan under the care of a professional.

After some ups and downs, he found the right combination of medication and therapy, and has focused his energies on self-healing and spreading awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.

David Romano, a proud native Minnesotan, is committed to letting others, especially men, know that it isn’t a weakness to ask for help with mental health issues. He empowers audiences to embrace who they are and support each other in eliminating the stigma attached to mental illness by sharing his own mental health narrative.

Raising awareness about mental health is David’s life passion. He is dedicated to fighting mental health stigma and engaging with communities around the country to change the conversation about mental health. Talking about it is “the only way that the stigma surrounding mental illness can be eliminated, and we can start to be happy with ourselves and proud of who we are,” Romano says.

David has been a mental health advocate since he was eighteen, and along with his work as an Active Minds speaker and advocate, has collaborated with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Mental Health, Speaking Up For Kids, and Human Relations Media. He is also an accomplished social worker and has worked in residential, partial hospitalization, outpatient, inpatient, and community non-profit settings, working with child, adolescent, adult, family and geriatric populations. In 2015, David also completed a diplomatic people-to-people collaborative project in Petrozavodsk, Russia aimed at increasing mental health awareness in rural Russia. David firmly believes that change comes at all levels and is determined to start the conversation surrounding mental health both as a national advocate and clinician in his community.

Along with his work with the Active Minds Speakers Bureau, David is the founder and original participant of the “Bike Across America for Mental Health Campaign,” which debuted in Spring 2015. To him, the bike trip was a physical representation for what it can be like to struggle with mental illness and issues, and he found that this endeavor was a new and exciting way to “start that conversation on mental health.” Overall, his cross-country journey by bicycle covered over 3,200 miles in 12 states in just six weeks, all in support of Active Minds and mental health advocacy.

David also was the Founder and President of the Active Minds chapter at his initial undergraduate program. He fully understands the responsibility and hard work that chapter work entails, and loves to consult with Active Minds chapters and share his knowledge about national programs, fundraising and member retention and recruitment tips.

David completed his bachelor’s degree in Social Work at The College of St. Scholastica in December 2014 as a Summa Cum Laude and Webster Scholar graduate. He attended the top ranked School of Social Work at the University of Washington and graduated Cum Laude with his Masters of Social Work in 2016, and now works as a full-time therapist in Minneapolis.


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