Approximately 1 in 5 American adults experiences some sort of mental illness in any given year. Since 1949, May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness month to bring attention the ongoing need for proper support and health care services for those affected. Lack of access to appropriate mental health care carries serious consequences, including increased likelihood of hospitalization, homelessness, incarceration, and suicide.
With many vulnerable populations lacking accessible and affordable mental health care services, nonprofit healthcare providers have stepped up to bridge the gap and provide necessary care to their communities. Here are 10 that we admire, both because of their commitment to providing high quality mental healthcare and because of the innovative ways that they are using technology to run and promote their services. Whether you are looking for a quality organization to support this month, or a good example of fundraising, volunteer management, and advocacy best practices for nonprofits, this list is a great place to start.
1. Ocean Mental Health ServicesThe Ocean Mental Health Services website states, “Oftentimes when people think of health they consider only their physical needs. At Ocean Mental Health Services we strive to bring the discussion of your mental health needs into the forefront, yet integrate our services to promote total wellness and recovery.” In addition to their commitment to providing comprehensive mental health services to residents of Ocean County, OMHS also offers a unique educational offering in the form of Ocean Academy, a small therapeutic school that supports students who need mental health support in order to succeed academically.
To fund their innovative treatment programs, their website features several creative fundraising campaigns. For instance, their Beacon of Light program allows participating businesses and schools to sell paper lighthouses for donations of $1, $5, or more, and hang the sold lighthouses to create a visual display of the money they have raised. Another unique fundraising program involves selling professionally printed note cards, decorated with nature photographs taken by Ocean Academy students, for which all of the proceeds go towards supporting participants in the mental health programs. Finally, their online donation page features this informative graphic, illustrating the impact of donations to potential funders in a compelling and personal way.
2. Positive Education ProgramCleveland’s Positive Education Program is a unique organization, originally created as a consultant to area school districts to help them serve their most challenging students. It quickly it became apparent that districts needed specialized centers dedicated to meeting the educational needs of their most troubled and troubling students, and today PEP operates seven Day Treatment Centers and other programs.
According to their website, “Through integrated special education and mental health services, Positive Education Program (PEP) is able to provide individualized care to children and youth experiencing emotional disturbances and demonstrating severe and challenging behaviors.” The primary goal of PEP’s integrated special education and mental health services is to enable children and youth to succeed in the least restrictive environment, ideally their own school district.
One aspect of PEP’s program that we love is a community-based model which works with everyone involved in the at-risk child’s life to create a plan of care aimed at helping the child access support from the community. The PEP team is creative when it comes to fundraising as well - one cool campaign currently featured on their webpage involves selling raffle tickets to win two seats at a showing the the acclaimed Broadway musical, Hamilton!
3. Uplift Family ServicesAs California’s largest and most comprehensive nonprofit behavioral health provider, Uplift Family Services serves more than 30,000 children and their family members annually. They boast a success rate of over 90% for youth that complete their programs and now live in the community and stay in school.
Aside from their successful healthcare programs, the thing that really stands out about Uplift Family Service’s website is its storytelling. They do a wonderful job of showing the impact of their services by telling personal stories of the people that they have helped. With an entire page of their website titled “Stories of Hope” which features photos of children and youth along with their stories, potential donors can get an intimate feel for just how important these services are to the families who access them.
4. The Village NetworkThe Village Network is a behavioral health organization helping youth and families in Ohio and West Virginia become healthy and have brighter futures. Their vision is to become a national leader in the sphere of youth and family behavioral health, and in many areas they are already leading the way. The Village Network considers itself a not-for-profit with a for-profit mentality, in the sense that they use sound business principles such as research-based leadership to build a forward-thinking and constantly developing model for helping youth rise above adverse childhood experiences to lead healthy and positive lives.
Their website offers easy direction to supporters who wish to volunteer their time, including this helpful graphic illustrating a roadmap of the steps necessary to become a volunteer. Making the process clear and simple is a great way to attract new volunteers, who may feel intimidated if the task seems complicated or unclear. As a bonus, they even feature a storytelling section with quotes from past volunteers about their positive experiences - another great way to attract new volunteers to the program.
5. Whitman Walker HealthWhitman Walker Health serves Washington D.C.’s LGBT community by offering a range of physical and mental health services. For decades, Whitman Walker has made sure that this historically marginalized and vulnerable community can access health care without fear of discrimination or judgment. Their website states that, “Regardless of how or why you came to us, we will welcome you with open arms and treat you with the dignity, respect and love that you deserve.”
Their mental and behavioral Health programs include peer support, substance use services, mental health, and psychiatry for LGBT youth and adults, who often have unique needs in the mental health sphere. They do a great job of highlighting the welcoming and inclusive care that makes them stand out, especially with videos like this on their website!
6. South End Community Health CenterThe South End Community Health Center is a non-profit health care organization for residents of the Boston’s South End. As stated on their website, they are “committed to providing the highest quality, culturally and linguistically sensitive, coordinated health care and social services to every patient, regardless of their ability to pay.”
They use social media to promote their fundraising campaigns in a unique and effective way. Rather than just posting a message about the upcoming fundraiser, they use the opportunity to highlight a human element of their organization by combining pictures and quotes from their staff members about why they care about their work. Utilizing these images piques the interest of potential donors and illustrates the inspiring nature of their work, and gives them a way to immediately demonstrate their support by buying a ticket to the event.
7. Community of Hope
Community of Hope, an organization that provides healthcare and housing services to Washington D.C.’s homeless population. They highlight the importance of mental health care in this equation, stating, “We believe that your overall health is not just about how your body feels, but also about your whole life experience. Your emotional well-being is critical.” They provide easy access to mental health care integrated into regular health care visits, so that their patients can live healthy and fulfilling lives in all areas.
Their online volunteer application portal makes it simple for interested supporters to find information about the requirements and opportunities for volunteering, and allows staff to easily capture relevant data and information. They also use eye catching infographics to combine qualitative and quantitative data for a 360 degree view of their impact.
8. HealthRight 360HealthRIGHT 360 is a network of integrated health programs that provides more than 70 distinct and culturally competent health care programs in California, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.
Their Integrated Care Center is a new model for delivering healthcare and wellness programs to low-income and homeless people. In their care center, clients are able to receive comprehensive treatment services in one place, including: primary medical care, dentistry, mental health services, substance use disorder treatment, housing referral, employment opportunities, adult education, as well as a dining room, and pharmacy. For clients who may lack reliable transportation access and access to information and health resources, this model is a game changer for making sure that both physical and mental health care needs are met.
9. Sheppard Pratt Health SystemSheppard Pratt Health System (SPHS) is the largest non-profit provider of mental health, substance use, special education, and social support services in the country. SPHS is known for being an innovator in the fields of research and best practice implementation, particularly when it comes to improving the quality of mental health care on a global level.
One thing we love about their website is that it provides information about multiple types of giving, allowing donors to explore their options, especially for larger, long-term donations such as Planned Giving and Stock Transfer donations. Having this information available online is a great way to start conversation with donors who may have not yet considered these methods of supporting the organization.
10. So Others Might EatSo Others Might Eat (SOME) is a Washington D.C.-based organization providing assistance to the Capital’s poor and homeless population. In addition to offering things like food and clothing, SOME advocates for policies that will benefit the constituencies that they serve, including mental health care policy, along with affordable housing and income support.
They advocate for an increased focus on the quality of care that DC Department of Behavioral Health consumers receive, through improved training of Community Service Workers, reporting that measures outcomes rather than process, and promoting accountability for high quality service.
Access to mental health care can make the difference for children, families, and individuals across the country, enabling them to achieve their goals and live fulfilling and successful lives. Nonprofit healthcare providers and service organizations work tirelessly to make sure that high quality mental health care is considered a right and not a privilege for the populations that they serve. This Mental Health Awareness month, we here at EveryAction are sending our thanks to all of the organizations and their staff who are working to ensure that mental health care is accessible to everyone.