The Best Mental Health Charities to Support Making a Difference
The Best Mental Health Charities to Support Making a Difference
Did you know that in 2021 it was found that over 57 million American adults over 18 years of age were recorded as having some sort of often treatable mental illness? Sadly the most impacted age group (18.6 percent or 6.2 million people) was among young adults aged 18 to 25. And out of the total 57 plus millions suffering from a mental illness, 27.6 percent (or 15.5 million people) felt treatment wasn't an option for them do to a myriad of reasons, but most commonly sited was affordability or lack of local resources.
And these numbers are only demonstrative of the American adult population. The same study estimates 7.7 million children under the age of 18 are currently experiencing treatable mental health disorders in addition to the adult mental illness numbers above. And of that number more than half of these minors did not receive needed treatment from a mental health professional due to the same reasons listed by the adult population.
It’s obvious with these statistics alone there is a lot of work needed in the mental health field in America as well as the rest of the world. Stigma and the lack of mental health education and facilities has resulted in these numbers continually climbing year over year as was found by the same research. And it seems that charities and nonprofit organizations are some of the only ways people can get the information and care they need. So now more than ever, these charities need your support to pick up the slack that has been created by an overworked and antiquated mental health system.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - One of the Largest Charities
NAMI, also known as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is currently the largest grassroots mental health charity in the United States, boasting over 600 local affiliates and 49 state organizations. The organization was started over 50 years ago in 1979 by a group of families that had all experienced mental illness issues and the lack of awareness and assistance within the American health sector. Since that time NAMI has continuously worked to better educate Americans and their duly elected representatives on the complexities of mental health and all of the mental illness issues that are still present and make getting the required care needed difficult.
NAMI's extensive range of programs and initiatives includes:
- Educational Programs: Through NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates, this organization administers educational programs that directly speak to those individuals and families dealing with mental illness issues and gives them the support and information needed to tackle their problems in an effective way.
- Support Groups: These support group comprise of both those who are battling mental health issues as well as groups that offer support and information for their families and others closely related to people with these conditions. These support groups are aimed at education and support as far as having others to lean on and be there when needed.
- Advocacy: NAMI actively shapes national public policy believing in its present form, the mental health care system is severely lacking in all states. By equipping volunteer leaders with the tools, resources, and skills needed to champion mental health reform in all states, they are working to increase the awareness and treatment options for all Americans.
- NAMI HelpLine: The NAMI HelpLine offers one-on-one assistance and information to address challenging issues faced by individuals, families, or friends navigating the complexities of mental health.
- Publications: NAMI produces a range of publications that keep individuals informed about the state of mental health in the country. These publications feature in-depth articles on mental illness, research findings, mental health legislation updates, surveys, personal stories, and highlights of NAMI events.
The JED Foundation - A Suicide Specific Mental Health Charity
According to the National Library of Medicine website, 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24. So it's no wonder The JED Foundation specifically looks to help young adults all over the country who are struggling with mental health issues, and more specifically thoughts of suicide. After tragically loosing their youngest son, Jed, to suicide, Phil and Donna Satow established JED in 2000 in the hopes of saving other families from loosing their children to suicide. The JED Foundation employs a holistic, public health-based approach in its programs to promote mental health and proactively prevent suicide.
Key programs and initiatives by The JED Foundation include:
- JED Campus: This initiative is aimed at assisting colleges and universities in areas such as student mental health, substance misuse prevention, and suicide prevention. By helping education centers implement comprehensive systems, enhance a variety of unique programs, and shaping policies related to mental health issues and suicide prevention, the JED Campus initiative is having a real impact on student’s lives.
- JED High School: Tailored to secondary education, this program assists schools in crafting and implementing evidence-based strategic plans designed to bolster student mental and behavioral health, reduce substance misuse, and proactively end suicide.
- Set to Go: This initiative equips teenagers with the skills, knowledge, and perspective required to navigate the pivotal and sometimes confusing and scary transition from high school to college or embark on a career path.
- Advocacy: The JED Foundation actively works for change with policies and legislation that are able to put forth a comprehensive public health approach to mental health promotion and suicide prevention.
- Publications: The foundation serves as a valuable resource hub, disseminating information and resources on mental health and suicide prevention through its website and their partnerships with other organizations.
The Foundation is committed to using evidence-based practices to combat the threat of suicidal tendencies in students and young adults ensuring that the unique needs of students who may face marginalization or underservice due to societal and structural disparities and the specific demographics of individual schools are adequately addressed. While sticking to their core principles and mission statement, they've impacted millions of young people across the United States over the years. Definitely consider exploring JED as a potential beneficiary of your support to help advance these vital initiatives.
Child Mind Institute - A Children's Mental Health Charity
The Child Mind Institute is a leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Looking at their website, which gets over two million visitors a month, and some of the statistics they give, it’s easy to see the organization’s impact. Their clinicians have treated 14,100+ patients from 45 countries, 49 states with over 75% of those treated receiving completely free or reduced cost treatments.
The organization operates three mission areas that work together for a greater impact on child mental illnesses: Care, Education, and Science. The following is an overview of the organization's programs and initiatives: Care:
- Clinical Centers: The Institute operates clinical centers in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area that provide evidence-based treatment to thousands of kids annually. The centers are supported by fees for service, with financial aid available.
- In-School Programs: The organization provides in-school programs that deliver evidence-based mental health services to students in need.
- Parenting Guides: The organization offers parenting guides that provide information and resources to help parents support children who are struggling with mental health, behavior, or learning challenges.
- Video Resources: Child Mind has a massive library of expert-led videos that cover a range of topics related to children's mental health, including anxiety, depression, and social media.
- Resource Finder: The organization's Resource Finder helps parents and caregivers find resources and information to support children who are struggling with mental health, behavior, or learning challenges.
- Healthy Brain Network: The Child Mind Institute's Healthy Brain Network is a research initiative that aims to improve the diagnosis and treatment of children's mental health and learning disorders.
- MatterLab: Matterab is a research initiative that uses cutting-edge technology to develop and rethink new treatments for children with mental health and learning disorders.
- Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange: The organization operates the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange, which is a global database of brain imaging data from individuals with autism.
The charity is a bit unique in that it does charge for some of its services and doesn’t entirely rely on donations alone. Their evidence-based, compassionate and personalized care is accessed either in person or online. Still, the organization relies on donations and contributions to support its work and research projects.
Brain & Behavior Research Foundation - 100% of your Donation Goes to Mental Research!
Since its establishment in 1987, BBRF has established itself as the largest non-governmental funder of mental health research grants worldwide, igniting an evolutionary era in the understanding, prevention, and treatment of psychiatric disorders through funding more ‘out of the box’ or non-traditional mental illness research.
Guaranteeing that 100% of any donation given to them specifically for scientific research is distributed directly into research grants, this organization has quickly become the go to for funding by many scientists and foundations across the globe, information and groundbreaking scientific research and papers. This is definitely unique in any American behavioral health foundation and is important to note. Since 1987, this organization has awarded more than $450 million to fund more than 6,500 grants to more than 5,400 scientists around the world according to their website.
Fostering Scientific Advancement BBRF is on a mission to drive transformative progress in the field of mental health through various initiatives:
Grants: Their research grants are highly sought after and competitive in the mental health research community, often paving the way for recipients to secure larger federal and private grants. These grants support scientists globally to push the boundaries of knowledge in mental health disorders.
Prizes: The foundation recognizes outstanding contributions with prestigious awards, such as the Colvin Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Mood Disorders Research and the Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health. These accolades highlight exceptional work and inspire further breakthroughs.
Education: BBRF provides accessible educational resources, including webinars, podcasts, and articles on their website. These resources promote awareness and understanding of mental health disorders in the hopes to bridge the gap between scientific research and the public.
Advocacy: The foundation actively advocates for policies and legislation that support mental health research and treatment, contributing to a more favorable environment for scientific advancements in the field.
Although the BBRF doesn't work with patients, the research and training it provides is the catalyst that propels the mental health industry as a whole and is super important. Their research and grants affect millions of lives and is a one organization worth giving to any of their fundraising activities.
Mental Health America (MHA) - The Oldest Nonprofit for Mental Awareness
Since 1909, Mental Health America (MHA) has been working diligently to improve the lives of anyone living in America that has a mental illness. As the oldest national nonprofit organization devoted to advancing mental health, well-being, and illness prevention, the organization's annual State of Mental Health in America report is among the most widely respected health reports in the nation. They tirelessly pursue their mission of assisting all Americans with mental health issues by advocating for mental health policies both locally and nationally, educating the public, and offering crucial support to individuals and families grappling with mental health challenges.
Here are a few of the key programs and initiatives offered:
- Screening to Supports (S2S): This program offers free mental health screenings online for anyone that feels they need it. It includes mental health screening tools that allow individuals to assess their mental health through a series of questions and other prompts and seek help if needed. This can greatly promote early detection, intervention and support.
- Peer Support: Peer support in mental health recovery is something that directly impacts a patient’s recovery process in a real way by allowing people to work together with similar circumstances and illnesses. Their peer to peer program is safe and anonymous if you need it to be, thus relieving you of the anxiety or stigma seeking help often entails.
- Public Education and Awareness: There are still many stigmas when it comes to speaking about, or seeking relief from mental health issues, and the MHA is actively engaged in public education and awareness campaigns that combat all of this. Through public educational resources, including information on mental health conditions, treatment options, and self-help tools and guides, individuals can get a better understanding of their illness and how to properly cope with it.
- Advocacy and Policy Reform: Working hard to influence legislation and policies that impact mental health services, access, and parity, the MHA advocates for mental health policy reform at the local, state, and national levels. Only through continued pressure on the system can things change, and this organization has been doing just that for over 100 years.
- Community-Based Initiatives: Proper mental health care starts at home which is why MHA places such significance on a community-based approach to mental health. Knowing communities around the USA are all different, their 200 affiliated programs help specifically address the priorities of each one while working to address the specific needs of individuals and families.
These programs and initiatives collectively reflect MHA's comprehensive approach to mental health advocacy, education, and support. They aim to make a positive impact on mental health awareness, prevention, and overall well-being for individuals and communities across the United States.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) - A Research Focused Charity
Started in 1987 by a small group of people that had all experienced a loss through suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) was created to establish a private source of support for suicide research, education and advocacy that was sorely lacking. Their comprehensive approach through encompassing scientific research, education, advocacy, and survivor support, makes them a leader in suicide prevention efforts.
- Nationwide Presence: AFSP has a substantial national presence with chapters in all 50 states which allows them to conduct community programs and events that focus on suicide prevention, mental health education, research funding, and policy advocacy.
- Focus on Research: AFSP heavily invests in studies to understand the causes of suicide and develop effective prevention strategies that can have the greatest positive impact. They also finance research grants to researchers committed to furthering the advancement of suicide prevention science.
- Advocacy: Link many of the other nonprofits on our list, AFSP engages in advocacy efforts at both state and federal levels in order to change policies from the ground level. Their efforts help to shape governmental policies and secure public funding for mental health research and crisis intervention services.
- Outreach and Awareness: AFSP conducts extensive outreach and awareness campaigns to combat the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. Programs like "Talk Saves Lives" and "More Than Sad" provide education and resources to communities, schools, and workplaces.
- Support for Survivors: Since the organization was started by a group that all experienced a loss through suicide, it’s no surprise they are dedicated to helping the survivors of suicide with as much intenseness as preventing the suicide itself. Their "Survivor Outreach Program" provides resources and a supportive community for those grieving a suicide loss.
- Training Programs: Training programs like "ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training)" and "safeTALK" help equip individuals with the skills to recognize and respond to signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviors before a victim gets too lost or tries to inflict pain on themselves.
AFSP is a highly specialized mental illness health nonprofit dedicated to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it. Their comprehensive multi-faceted approach encompasses research, education, advocacy, and survivor support, makes them a leader in suicide prevention efforts. By supporting AFSP, you play a crucial role in saving lives and addressing the urgent issue of suicide in our society. Follow them at the hashtag #TalkAwayTheDark.
Rethink Mental Illness - UK Based Nonprofit for Mental Diseases and Awareness
This UK-based charity was organized in 1972 by John Pringle after his son was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Seeing the lack of information and resources, Rethink Mental Illness was created to help anyone in the UK that is either experiencing or living with someone who is experiencing mental health illnesses. Like in the USA, British mental health governmental organizations are behind when it comes to mental health treatments and research. Some of the ways they help are:
- Holistic Approach: By considering the broader societal impact of what they’re trying to achieve, Rethink Mental Illness takes a holistic approach to helping those with mental illness. Going beyond individual care, they also work with communities through education and reform both at a local and national level.
- Comprehensive Services: Rethink Mental Illness offers an extremely diverse range of services that includes helplines, advice and information, support groups, advocacy, and even housing support for those with nowhere to go due to their illness. Their comprehensive approach makes sure that everyone finds assistance at every stage of the mental health journey.
- Advocacy and Policy Reform: With over 40 years of experience, RMI has worked to change the way mental illness is viewed and treated in the UK through training and launching local and national campaigns that have changed, and continue to change, how people and society as a whole view and behave towards people living with mental illness.
- Peer Support: Peer support is always helpful for those dealing with mental illness as well as those living with or caring for them. Rethink Mental Illness has worked to create connections among individuals with firsthand experience of mental illness, enabling them to share stories and uplift each other.
Although smaller than a few other amortizations on our list, RMI is having a major impact for those it works with. In a testament to their effectiveness, 98% of service users report receiving the right support, while 97% feel supported in achieving their goals.
The Trevor Project - LGBTQ+ Mental Health Services
Another highly specialized organization that deals with suicide prevention, The Trevor Project was specifically created to help end suicide among LGBTQ young people ages 13–24. Although much smaller than many other nonprofits listed, it is the largest LGBTQ specific charity, and the organization has already helped to positively impact thousands of lives within the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning) community. The Trevor Project was started in 1998 by James Lecesne, Peggy Rajski, and Randy Stone in response to the suicide of a young gay man named Trevor. In response to the suicide, they wanted to create a safe and supportive space for LGBTQ+ youth who were struggling with their mental health.
Here are a few of the noteworthy reasons why they've made it on our list:
- Specialized Focus: The Trevor Project is unique in that it concentrates exclusively on LGBTQ+ youth. This this highly specific lexicographical approach allows them to uniquely understand and address the challenges and mental health concerns faced by this vulnerable demographic. LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly young people between the ages of 14 to 24, often experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, as well as other mental disorders and mental illnesses all leading to suicidal tendencies due to stigma, discrimination, and lack of acceptance. By focusing on this specific population, The Trevor Project can tailor their services to meet their specific needs better than any other organization.
- Crisis Intervention Services: The organization offers understanding and non-judgmental crisis intervention services, including a 24/7 toll-free Lifeline (1-866-488-7386) and text/chat support, enabling LGBTQ+ youth to seek help when they need it most from trained counselors and volunteers. This round-the-clock availability is crucial because mental health crises can happen at any time.
- Suicide Prevention: The Trevor Project's primary goal is to prevent suicide among LGBTQ+ youth. They work to raise awareness both on a local and national level of the disproportionately high suicide rates within this specific demographic, and are active in hands suicide prevention efforts. They provide resources, education, and support networks that empower LGBTQ+ youth to cope with any of life’s challenges they might face.
- Community Building: Beyond crisis intervention, The Trevor Project is also involved in community-building activities. Through programs such as TrevorSpace, an online community specifically created for LGBTQ+ young people, TTP creates a safe space and fosters a sense of belonging. These supportive networks have proven to significantly improve the mental well-being of LGBTQ+ youth by reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Research and Advocacy: The Trevor Project conducts scientific research to better understand LGBTQ+ youth mental health issues and uses this knowledge to advocate for policy changes on a state and federal level and improved support systems for their community. They actively work with lawmakers and institutions to promote inclusivity and combat discrimination.
Due to its focused mission and commitment to LGBTQ+ youth, The Trevor Project has seen major growth and positive impact in a very short period of time. And although they are still a small nonprofit, their commitment to understanding and eradicating suicide in their demographic makes them a standout on our list.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Although not a nonprofit, we wanted to include the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and primarily receives its funding through federal appropriations, as a reference as far as what research is being conducted at the present and how as a charity you can use this research as well as other benefits to help you with your organization’s activities.
Here's how NIMH can help you with your mental health charity:
- Access to Research and Data: NIMH conducts extensive research on mental health conditions, treatments, and interventions. They publish research findings, statistics, and data on various mental health topics are always free to the public, and because it is all under public domain as far as copyright, they are also free to use in any way you wish.
- Educational Resources: NIMH provides educational materials, brochures, and publications on various mental health topics that you can freely share. These resources can be used to educate your target audience, donors, and volunteers about mental health issues and the importance of your charity's work.
- Collaboration Opportunities: NIMH often collaborates with other organizations, including mental health charities like yours. You can explore partnership opportunities, joint initiatives, or research collaborations to further your charity's mission and help bring its awareness to the forefront. Collaborations like these can really make a difference as to how your charity is seen in the public eye as well as others in the industry.
- Funding Information: While NIMH itself may not directly fund your charity, they may have information about grants, funding opportunities, or research initiatives related to mental health that could benefit your organization. They can also help guide you on where to look for funding sources.
- Training and Workshops: NIMH occasionally offers training sessions, webinars, and workshops on various aspects of mental health research and treatment. Participating in these events can help you and your team stay updated on the latest developments in the field.
- Networking: Networking is always a fast way to build your organization, as well as finding BOD members and sponsors. Attending NIMH-sponsored conferences, seminars, and meetings to network with professionals and organizations in the mental health field is a smart way to let people know about your organization and its mission and goals. . Building relationships.
While they may not directly fund your charity, the knowledge, data, and connections you gain from NIMH can be valuable assets in advancing your organization's mission to support mental health.
All of these charities are working hard to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and increase access to quality mental health care and treatments. And a few are even paving the way for scientific research that will empower therapists and doctors far into the future, assisting mental health charities as well as governmental programs and other nonprofit organizations dealing with mental illness.
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