According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 out of 5 US adults experiences mental illness every year. And as highlighted by WHO (World Health Organization), people living with severe mental health conditions die prematurely, as much as 2 decades early. These are all shocking and disheartening numbers and make clear the prominent threat this condition poses to human lives.
Although mental illness is so common, there is still a lot of misunderstanding and stigma associated with it and often it’s difficult for individuals to seek the help they need. That’s where these ten great mental health charities step in.
Through advocacy, research, education, treatment services, and destigmatization, these charities all work in some way to make life better for those living with mental health issues and their families.
In this article, we’ll look at the following charities:
There are so many more charities making a difference in the mental health field, but these, in particular, offer compelling programs, research, and support.
If you or a loved one are in a crisis, consider calling one of these helplines for immediate support:
Keep reading to learn more about these organizations and their work.
Mission: Through advocacy, public awareness, support, and education, NAMI works to ensure individuals with mental illness live fulfilling, healthy lives.
The Alliance started as a group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 and has blossomed into one of the largest grassroots mental health organizations, consisting of over 600 local Affiliates and 48 State Organizations. They work with communities to educate and encourage support for mentally ill community members.
One of NAMI’s goals is to remove the stigma associated with mental illness. They serve this goal primarily through education initiatives like their NAMI Family-to-Family class, which serves to support families of people with mental illness, or their NAMI Homefront class, which works with the families of military service members and veterans who have mental health conditions. These education initiatives work with NAMI’s community-focused mission.
Through their toll-free NAMI HelpLine (800-950-6264), over 50,000 people were able to seek help in 2020 alone, and the help page of their website got over 233,000 hits. But that’s not all they do.
Their advocacy work creates positive public policy change by promoting accessible, affordable, and comprehensive healthcare for people with mental illness. They also work toward practices that promote more awareness and earlier detection of mental illnesses.
To get involved with the important work NAMI is doing, consider taking their StigmaFree Pledge, volunteering on the HelpLine, or donating to support their work.
Mission: MHI uses digital innovation, data-driven analysis, and the experience of clinical experts to improve mental health in the United Kingdom.
The goal of MHI is for everyone in the UK to have access to the digital mental health services they need. It is to ensure that care is always available, no matter where the individual is located. MHI believes the easier these services are to access, the more likely people are to use them when they need them.
Their inaugural innovation is called Shout 85285, which is a confidential, free, 24-hour texting service for people facing a mental health crisis.
Volunteers who work for Shout have had over 1,270,000 conversations with people with anxiety, depression, or thoughts of suicide; they linked them with the help they need through a digital connection.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shout program became even more important as a way to receive immediate, socially distanced help.
MHI’s researchers also use anonymous data collected from Shout to improve the Shout service. They also come up with other innovative ways to get people to help when they need it most.
In addition to Shout, MHI developed a training program to help promote well-being in the workplace, with a focus on mental health. The goal of the training is to help workers become more self-aware of their own well-being and to practice eight skills to help them have more beneficial conversations in the workplace.
Mission: MHA strives to address the needs of those living with mental illness as well as promote good mental health for all.
After Clifford W. Beers stayed in a variety of public and private institutions where he suffered from terrible conditions and abuse, he founded MHA in 1909. Their mission also has a strong prevention aspect, like their B4Stage4 Philosophy: “that mental health conditions should be treated long before they reach the most critical points in the disease process,” similar to how we strive to prevent and treat cancer well before Stage 4.
MHA has a variety of advocacy and educational programming, including:
Recently, MHA released the first state and county-level data about suicide risk during COVID-19. This important data helps identify communities in need of mental health support; it includes resources, greater understanding and awareness, and direct crisis care.
If you’d like to get involved with MHA, consider volunteering with your local MHA affiliate or donating to support this important work.
Mission: Rethink Mental Health Incorporated encourages us all to “rethink” the stigma associated with mental health issues and empower people to get the help they need.
Rethink Mental Health strives to reach this goal by focusing on three areas:
You may be wondering what you can do to help them. Luckily, they trust Donorbox to handle their fundraising needs, so you can donate through their Donorbox-powered donation form.
Mission: To transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure.
NIMH is a federal agency that focuses on researching mental disorders with the goal to increase understanding and treatment options. They are part of the National Institutes of Health along with 27 other Institutes and Centers—which make up the largest biomedical research agency in the world.
NIMH’s most recent strategic plan outlines the following primary goals:
Along with their interior research (which involves over 500 scientists!), another of NIMH’s activities includes funding mental health research across the country. Their research funding program supports more than 2,000 grants and contracts at universities and other institutions all over the country.
NIMH also has a strong research training program that focuses on training and professional development to prepare researchers for conducting new research in the field that will support the goals of the institute.
Recent research conducted by NIMH includes assessing suicide risk in mothers before and after giving birth, mapping brain proportions over the lifespan, and addressing the need for rapid-acting suicide intervention.
While not technically a private charity, as a federal agency, donations to NIMH are still tax-deductible.
Although NIMH might not interact directly with communities in need, their research is an important element in making mental health a priority for everyone and making life better for those with mental illness. If you would like to get involved, follow NIMH on social media or donate through the mail.
Mission: To transform the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders.
Since half of all mental illness occurs before the age of 14 and 75% occurs by the age of 24, the Child Mind Institute focuses on bettering the lives of children and families of children struggling with mental health and learning disorders.
As a national nonprofit, they focus on direct care, education, community support, advocacy, and advancing scientific understanding.
They make the following commitments:
Their personalized care offerings include in-person treatment at offices located in either New York City or the San Francisco Bay Area. Virtual telehealth treatment services are available to patients in California, New York, and New Jersey.
Child Mind Institute provides excellent support for families and teachers.
In 2020, Child Mind Institute pivoted all its programming to help serve families struggling with mental illness during the pandemic. They also helped provide additional resources to over 75,000 educators in New York City.
To get involved with this important work, consider donating or attending an event to learn more.
Mission: AFSP is a voluntary health organization whose mission is to support those affected by suicide through research, education, and advocacy, with local chapters in all 50 states.
Founded in 1987, AFSP works toward the following strategies:
One public policy priority for AFSP includes support and funding for the 988 crisis response system, which is a new number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (also called just Lifeline) that will be operational nationwide by July 2022.
By securing funding and looking into capacity issues, AFSP hopes the transition to the shorter number will go smoothly. The current number, 1-800-273-TALK or 8255, is an effective and important crisis intervention tool; capacity issues will need to be addressed to move forward.
AFSP also offers a variety of funding opportunities for research, especially in the following priority areas for 2020-2022:
There are several ways to help with AFSP’s important work. Every year, local chapters host the Out of the Darkness walks which are inspiring, collective fundraising events.
You can get involved in other local events and even sponsor your own event. And, of course, you can donate to support their research, education, and public policy efforts to prevent suicide.
Mission: StrongMinds empowers impoverished African women by treating depression enabling these women and their families to lead more healthy, productive, and satisfying lives.
Founded in 2013, StrongMinds works to provide mental health services to impoverished women in Africa. Their focus is to help these women overcome debilitating mental health issues through group talk therapy.
It’s a life-changing, cost-effective treatment to begin addressing the depression epidemic in certain African countries. They have treated more than 80,000 women and adolescents through their programming.
Focusing on Africa is essential to StrongMinds’s mission. According to their FAQs, StrongMinds says that most African governments spend less than 1% of their health budget on mental illness. In Uganda alone, there are only 30 psychologists for approximately 35 million people.
StrongMinds uses Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy with groups that meet for 12 weeks with the women coming together for approximately 90 minutes a week. They work to train the facilitators of each group. After the 12 weeks is up, around 75% of the groups continue to meet up and work together.
Recently, StrongMinds launched a WhatsApp chatbot named Amani to be used as a virtual mental health resource. Amani offers the following support:
Once users complete the initial screening, they can request a call-back and get set up with one of the StrongMinds talk groups.
To help support StrongMinds, consider starting your own fundraiser or donating today.
Mision: To protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults.
After Donna and Phil Satow lost their son to suicide, they founded The Jed Foundation to protect emotional health and prevent suicide in teens and young adults.
Partnering with high schools and colleges, JED equips teens and young adults with skills by encouraging community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health.
JED’s programming over the last twenty years has had a major impact. More than 3,000 high schools, colleges, and universities use at least one resource from JED. JED has educated over 7,000 mental health professionals in suicide prevention.
A national campaign called Seize the Awkward encourages young people to have important (but sometimes awkward!) conversations with each other about their mental health, particularly with friends who might be struggling with a mental health issue. They use this campaign to empower young people to reach out to help manage their stress during the pandemic.
JED also advocates for approaching mental health and suicide prevention from a public health perspective. Their advocacy work hopes to build a future where the following is true:
To support JED, consider volunteering in programs that support their mission or donating so they can continue this important work.
Mission: ”Our vision is for equality, rights, fair treatment, and maximum quality of life for all those affected by mental illness, their carers, family and friends.”
Founded over 50 years ago and based in London, Rethink Mental Illness strives to give both people who live with mental illness and their friends and families the maximum quality of life. They provide a direct impact by offering services for people living with mental illness.
In addition to this goal, they hope to help to inspire everyone to rethink mental illness and transform our approach so that no one feels like they have to face mental illness alone.
Rethink Mental Illness offers services like:
Mission: “We believe that together, Black women across the African Diaspora can sustain their mental wellness through connecting to resources and supporting one another.”
Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness provides low-cost mental wellness services in the Chicago area and beyond, centered on the experience of Black women. They work to achieve their mission in these four ways:
This August, Sista Afya is hosting a virtual summer retreat focused on overall holistic well-being, including physical, mental, and nutritional elements. The retreat will include yoga, a cooking demonstration, and more.
To help support this important work, consider donating to the nonprofit arm of Sista Afya, Sista Afya Community Care. Sista Afya uses Donorbox for their fundraising needs, so if you’re interested in donating to support this important work, you can do that here.
Mission: To alleviate the suffering caused by mental illness through awarding grants to support research and significant scientific breakthroughs.
The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation was founded in 1987. They’re the nation’s #1 non-governmental funder of mental health research grants. Brain and Behavior Research Foundation has provided grant funding to more than 5,000 scientists in over 560 institutions around the world.
Some research they’ve supported in the past includes research into deep-brain stimulation for treatment-resistant depression, rapid-acting antidepressants, and transcranial magnetic stimulation.
The foundation offers 3 kinds of grants for direct funding for scientists:
Along with these grants, the foundation provides a variety of awards and prizes to recognize and support innovative research.
Their educational programming includes:
100% of donations to research do actually go to fund research. They have separate operational grants to help support the costs of running the foundation. This means that you can donate with the peace of mind that your donation is going straight to research.
Mission: “Through education, research, advocacy, and a focus on young adults ages 14–25, Active Minds is opening up the conversation about mental health and creating lasting change in the way mental health is talked about, cared for, and valued in the United States.”
After Alison Malmon lost her brother to depression, she started Active Minds (originally Open Minds) in an effort to encourage open communication about mental illness struggles among young people.
She started with a chapter at her own college and soon the organization grew into a nationwide nonprofit; its headquarters is in D.C.
Eighteen years later, Active Minds has touched the lives of thousands of college students and young adults all over the nation; even beyond. The national chapter network consists of over 550 chapters, with a collective of 15,000 new members annually.
Through the peer-to-peer approach, new members work to promote positive mental health, increase awareness, and encourage peers to reach out for help when they need it.
Other initiatives include:
All charities strive to do one thing: make the world a better place. These charities are doing really important, necessary work both in general and for our specific circumstances. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones! This list was compiled more to give you an understanding of what some of the top charities in this category are doing; not to claim that any of these are better than others.
There is no doubt that talking about mental health is an important step toward destigmatizing mental illness and normalizing seeking help. These charities are putting in the work to make this a reality. Sometimes awareness is the first step toward real change. And these organizations hope to go even beyond that—to a place where mental health is valued, understood, and supported by all.
Consider learning more about these organizations and donating to help make their mission a reality.
If you or a loved one are in a crisis, consider calling one of these helplines for immediate support:
For more nonprofit news, tips, and how-tos, check out the rest of our blog.
If your nonprofit is looking for help with online fundraising through simple-to-use and quick-to-set-up tools, Donorbox can be your best and an affordable choice. Our features include a plethora of options such as Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer fundraising, Events, Memberships, Recurring Donation Forms, Customizable Donation Pages, Text-to-Give, and more.
If you have already started with online fundraising but looking to scale your efforts and potential, Donorbox Premium is here to help – get expert coaching, high-performance tools, and priority support.