understanding mental health & stigma • MHM

Visit to learn the basic facts, symptoms and warning signs of mental health disorders. This is a great resource for planning your campaigns and messages.


Mental Health Matters (MHM) is a program of the Mental Wellness Center (MWC). Originally created in 2000, it is designed to introduce basic facts about mental health to elementary, middle and high school students. The MHM course addresses three foci: (1) signs and symptoms of major mental health disorders, (2) stigma and how it affects our perceptions of mental illness and (3) wellness activities and practices. It is primarily taught in 6th & 9th grade classes.

local SB resources • YouthWell

Visit to find local crisis and support resources.

national crisis resources

  • Print and fill out a personal Safety Plan or download the my3 app to your phone. Identifying their support system ahead of time when they are thinking clearly can help guide them when they are in crisis.
  • Crisis Text Line
    Text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling.
    Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information via text. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)  or  ONLINE LIVE CHAT
    24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call is routed to the nearest crisis center in the national network of 150+ crisis center
  • The Trevor Project Project
    Trevor Lifeline: (866)-488-7386
    The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24
  • Bullying Help Chat Line
    The STOMP Out Bullying™ HelpChat Line is a free and confidential online chat that helps youth ages 13-24 ONLY with issues around bullying and cyberbullying; as well as providing support to youths who may be at risk of suicide.

national campaign websites

  • Shatterproof
    Dedicated to ending the devastation addiction causes families. Together we can reduce the stigma and secrecy associated with addiction, removing the shame felt by those struggling with this disease and their families. Together we can change the conversation about addiction.
  • It's On Us
    Works to educate, engage and empower students and communities to do something big or small, to end sexual assault. Focus on increasing bystander intervention.
  • Step Up!
    Step UP! is a prosocial behavior and bystander intervention program that educates students to be proactive in helping others.
  • The Clothesline Project
    The Clothesline Project provides evidence that incest, domestic and sexual violence exists in our communities. It is a visual reminder of statistics that we often ignore. It gives a voice to those who have been forcibly silenced.
  • Denim Day
    Peace Over Violence has run its Denim Day campaign on a Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Violence Awareness Month.
  • It Can Wait
    Distracted driving is never ok.
  • R U OK
    Our mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. Conversations need to happen every day. Encourage more people to ask R U OK? in your school, workplace or community
  • Each Mind Matters
    We all have mental health, and our voices are amplified when we speak up together.
    Suicide Prevention Week > TOOLKIT
  • Know The Signs
    Pain isn't always obvious. Suicide is preventable.
  • Change Direction
    The goal of the Campaign to Change Direction is to change the culture of mental health in America so that all of those in need receive the care and support they deserve. The Campaign encourages all Americans to pay attention to their emotional well-being. In order to change our culture, we have to start with a common language, and learn the Five Signs.
  • Heads Together
    Too often, people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health. This fear of prejudice and judgement stops people from getting help and can destroy families and end lives. Heads Together wants to help people feel much more comfortable with their everyday mental wellbeing and have the practical tools to support their friends and family.
    work to reduce and prevent bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educates against homophobia, LGBTQ discrimination, racism and hatred, and deters violence in schools, online and in communities across the country.
  • GLSEN - No Name Calling. GLSEN works to ensure that LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment.
  • To Write Love on Her Arms
  • This is My Brave
  • Walk In Our Shoes
  • Yellow Ribbon - Suicide Prevention
  • Project SemiColon

student mh clubs & programs

  • Active Minds
    We are changing the culture on campuses and in the community by providing information, leadership opportunities and advocacy training to the next generation. Through campus-wide events and national programs, Active Minds aims to remove the stigma that surrounds mental health issues, and create a comfortable environment for an open conversation about mental health issues on campuses nationwide.
    • Your Student At College - Mental Health Checklist - 7 Tips for Parents  PRINT >
    • After a Campus Suicide - Postvention Guide for Student Led Responses  PRINT >
    • Family communication (empowering the ones we love) tips READ >
  • Bring Change 2 Mind
    Nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging dialogue about mental health, and to raising awareness, understanding, and empathy. Mission is to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
  • Lets Erase the Stigma
    Project LETS is an inclusive community and network for individuals with mental illness (or experiences that are understood as mental illness) that provides peer support services, assists with advocacy efforts, and strives for political change.
    Project LETS Chapters are a network of students on college and university campuses that exist to embody the mission, vision, and goals of Project LETS. Through: organized meetings; activities, discussions, panels and workshops led by students with lived experience; advocacy efforts and political change; and peer counseling programs - each chapter serves as a voice of resistance, hope, and support for students and their surrounding communities.
  • NAMI on Campus
    Campus clubs are student-led, student-run mental health organizations on college campuses. Raise mental health awareness with fairs, walks and candlelit vigils. Educate the campus with presentations, guest speakers and student panels. Advocate for improved mental health services and policies on campus. Support peers with signature NAMI programs and training from NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates.

mh curriculum & training

  • More Than Sad  (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
    • STUDENTS: This program teaches teens to recognize the signs of depression in themselves and others, challenges the stigma surrounding depression, and demystifies the treatment process.
    • PARENTS: This program teaches parents how to recognize signs of depression and other mental health problems, initiate a conversation about mental health with their child, and get help.
    • TEACHERS: This program teaches educators to recognize signs of mental health distress in students and refer them for help.
  • After A Suicide, A Toolkit for Schools
    • In collaboration with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, AFSP offers After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools to help schools respond in the aftermath of a suicide death.
  • Signs of Suicide (SOS)
    • Providing tools to help youth identify the signs and symptoms of depression, suicide, and self-injury in themselves and their peers
  • SAVE
    • Smart Schools... SMART-Students Mobilizing Awareness and Reducing Tragedies- is a suicide prevention program created by SAVE for motivated student groups on high school and college campuses nationwide.  SMART program staff, in partnership with student leaders, organize motivated students who are passionate about raising mental health and suicide awareness on campus and in the community. Additionally, the program allows students the opportunity to design and implement custom suicide prevention programming that best fits the size and needs of their schools. These efforts increase capacity for stronger, safer and overall healthier communities.
    • LEADS for YOUTH: Linking Education and Awareness of Depression and Suicide... is a school-based suicide prevention curriculum designed for high schools and educators that links depression awareness and suicide prevention. LEADS for Youth is an informative and interactive opportunity for students and teachers to increase knowledge and awareness of depression and suicide.
  • Reconnecting Youth - RY
    • An award-winning, prevention program that helps at-risk youth achieve in school and decrease their drug use, anger, depression, and emotional distress. Designed as a semester-long class offered for school credit, the RY curriculum focuses on skills training within the context of peer group and adult support.
  • Kognito
    • At-Risk For PK-12 Educators is a turnkey solution to educate PK-12 educators and staff about mental health and suicide prevention which supports improved student wellness and school safety. They rapidly build the capacity of educators to lead real-life conversations that change lives.
    • Friend2Friend --  game-based simulation for adolescents that builds awareness, knowledge, and skills about mental health while reducing stigma. It prepares youth to recognize signs of distress, reach out to a friend they are concerned about, and help identify a trusted adult for support.
    • Step-In Speak Up -- An interactive role-play simulation for educators that builds understanding and appreciation for the challenges faced by LGBTQ youth, and prepares users to lead real-life conversations with students to curtail harassment and support those who may be struggling as a result of bullying or isolation.

understanding mh & good reads

  • Go Ask Alice
    Site is supported by a team of Columbia University health promotion specialists, health care providers, and other health professionals, along with a staff of information and research specialists and writers. Our team members have advanced degrees in public health, health education, medicine, counseling, and a number of other relevant fields.
  • Love is Respect
    Highly-trained advocates offer support, information and advocacy to young people who have questions or concerns about their dating relationships. Free and confidential phone, live chat and texting services are available 24/7/365.



campaign activities

student articles

Submit an article once a month to the School Paper. Highlight the YWC campaigns and messages.

  • teen resilience
  • Making changes one community at a time
  • An uncomfortable conversation
  • Wellness without walls
  • IDEAS GUNN SCHOOL: Student Oracle Newspaper: Changing the Narrative [We want to help change the narrative by normalizing everyday struggles and showing the beauty of vulnerability. To make this step, The Oracle will publish personal stories of strength, hope, healing and growth every other week.]

create video's & PSA's

Create 3 videos for the year with different messages.

  1. You Matter
  2. Stand Against Stigma, Be an Upstander
  3. Awareness Creates Change
  4. Practice Kindness


  • STUDENTS: No make-up challenge - be authentic?? “I love my _________[hair] #FearlessFriday
  • PARENTS: Faces of mental illness: My name is _________ and I am a mother who wants to make a difference, reduce stigma, give families a voice ???

care cards for students & parents


You are not alone.

There are students and parents and teachers that are here for you.

Whatever you’re feeling right now is OK.

It’s OK to not be OK.

You are needed. You cannot be replaced.

I’m sorry you’ve been feeling so awful. We are so glad you’re still here.

We know it’s hard. Sometimes life throws obstacles in our way that feel too hard to overcome, and it’s rough going through this alone.

People can try to understand your depression, anxiety or whatever circumstance you’re in...but it may not seem like enough.

We do not want you to take your life because not only do you deserve to live, but others need you.

We are not judging you. We want to support you.

Your life matters. It is ok to ask for help.

We are working on our campuses and in our community to reduce the stigma around mental health. We want everyone to feel safe asking for support when they need it.


Members of the Youth Wellness Connection


therapy dogs • destress fest

Create a de-stress fest in JAN & MAY around finals week. Partner with campus clubs and therapy dogs, etc. Host lunch activities like coloring, play with puppies, lawn games and competitions, as well as food and raffles. Create teams within the WC Club to manage and plan different activities for the day.

  • Contact Love on a Leash
    • Set the date
    • Request 5-7 dogs
  • Need Insurance for EACH School DISTRICT
  • Promote on campus!

awareness with beads


  • Create a video to show on all campuses
  • Order Mardi Gras beads (Oriental Trading)
  • Partner with other clubs (AHA, FNL, ASB Leadership)
  • Do tables before school and at lunch to hand out beads.
    • Wear PURPLE if you know of someone who has been bullied
    • Wear GREEN if you know of someone who suffers with depression, anxiety, ADHD or another mental health illness
    • Wear YELLOW if you know of someone who has attempted or committed suicide
    • Wear ORANGE if you know of someone struggling with an addiction, eating disorder or self harming
    • Wear RED if you want to support ENDING THE STIGMA around mental health.

you matter messages • tear off flyer

  • Post anonymous notes in public places for other people to find.
  • Notes with positive messages for students and staff
      Write it down on a Post-It and leave it in a public place for someone else to find. Put one on someone’s car windshield, or on a gym locker, or a bathroom mirror.
      [OPTIONAL] Each day on website, we can post a suggested “Post-It Phrase Of The Day”.

kindness rocks


  • Collect Rocks. Flat smooth rocks work best.
  • Prep rocks by spraying with non-toxic spray paint.  This prepares rocks surface for writing and seals the rock so paint pens will last longer
  • Use Oil based sharpie paint pens for writing messages.
  • ADD A MESSAGE ON THE BACK... #WCCLUBS #SBROCKS #YOUMATTERROCKSPROJECT so others can join and share their pictures when they find one, that way you can follow the journey of your rock…
  • Paint final coat of non-toxic sealant... protects artwork from the elements and paint from altering the environment… brush on Modge Podge outdoor sealant works great!
  • When dropping your rocks or installing an Inspiration Garden, be sure to acquire permission. It is our goal to promote respect and consideration for others while spreading kindness.
  • OPTIONAL: Person who finds the rock can take a photo of it or a selfie with trock and post it on Instagram, SnapChat. Then they can replace the rock with one they’ve painted or re-hide the rock they found.


  • This was dropped to let you know that You matter!
  • just wanted to let you know how awesome you are



wear the message • safety-pins

Create SAFETY-PIN JEWELRY to give or sell to students, teachers and admin. Wear on clothes, put on backpacks. Spread the message!

host a panel

[1] Bring together a panel of 1st/2nd year college students to come speak to juniors and seniors about... what they wish they had known back in high school that they may have done differently AND how to prepare for your first year of college.

[2] SURVIVING MENTAL HEALTH IN SANTA BARBARA or IN HIGH SCHOOL: student-led panels and workshops to raise awareness and discussing: Mental Health support at school, Eating Disorders, Depression + Self-Harm + Anxiety Disorders. We will share resources, stories + allow time for anonymous Q+A., art therapy projects, yoga, meditation. Host a panel of 4-6 students, parents, or experts. Having students share personal experiences has a huge impact.

final's care packages

This program was a fundraiser where students or parents could buy care packages for themselves and for their friends. 

  • Bake cookies, and cupcakes (something healthier?), art activity and put together care packages that students could buy during finals week.
  • Include a personalized message with inspirational quotes and a list of stress management resources on campus in each care package.

Promote in advance and host tables during lunch to pre-sell.

Deliver to students during class.

penny/change wars

Set up a competition between the YWC Clubs on each campus. Each team gets a jar for their pennies in which they will put as many pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollars as possible. At the end of two weeks, the team with the most money will receive a prize and all of the jars will be consolidated. Promote on campus!

relaxation at lunch

Yoga, massage chairs

board game olympics


  • Teams compete in a series of board games in order to compete for the gold, silver, and bronze medals for each event and the overall competition.
  • Have competing teams rotate throughout each event.
  • Make sure that you have chapter representatives to run each event and keep score. 
  • In order to put on this event, reserve a large space, recruit teams to participate and then have them pay $10 entry fee, and then host the event from about 5pm-9pm, announcing the winners at the end. 
  • Collect board games, fun music playlists and snacks/water for the night of the competition.
  • Purchase cheap goal, silver and bronze medals from the local dollar store.

sweater for a good cause

Offer a dance/pilates/barre/zumba/kickboxing class to students.

Find 1-5 instructors who will donate their time to teach a class (if you can recruit multiple teachers, you can repeat the event weekly/monthly).

Charge $5-10. Putting together a few different dance/exercise classes benefits both the physical and mental health of students.

Participating in even one class will also introduce people to your club.  

Include information on stress, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders at your class, since all of these mental health issues are relevant to exercise.

Reserve space on campus or at a studio. 

Make sure you can recruit a minimum of 5 participants for a class to respect the time your yoga/dance/exercise teacher is donating.

push up challenge • push against stigma

  • Push against stigma - push-ups campaign --- Kathryn DeWitt, [& Elizabeth Li] --
  • Push Against Stigma is a pushup contest to raise money for Active Minds, a national mental health awareness organization that seeks to promote mental wellness and more open conversations about mental health
  • PARTICIPATE! Sign up here ( by January 24th, then get at least one sponsor and post a video of you doing your (consecutive) pushups (please tag our Facebook page!) by the end of February 13th. (Yes, you have until 11:59pm - like a writing seminar submission, but way less painful.)
  • DONATE! Sponsor one of our participants here ( Pledges can be as small as a penny per pushup. Give what you can - every cent helps! THREE prize categories - winners will receive a free Active Minds Penn t-shirt and a $10 gift card to Qdoba, FroGro, Quiznos, or the Rave - it’s your choice! --Most pushups --Most sponsors --Most money raised

t-shirt sales

Design your shirt in our free online tool, or upload your own art.
Launch your fund and spread the word to your friends & supporters.

Sell as many shirts & hoodies as you can before your fund ends.
Online provider prints and ships shirts to your supporters and send you the profits.


Order 100 Shirts [Sell $15]: 20 SM 25 MED  30 LRG 25  XL$9.98

Approx. cost w/ set up & tax per shirt

  • $120  Screen Set Up Fees [$84]
  • $3.94 T-Shirt Cost  [$2.76]
  • $3.50 Logo Front per shirt [$2.45]
  • $4.50 Logo Back per shirt [$3.15]
  • Tax 7.75% [approx $0.80 per shirt]
  • 30% Discount from Ranch Gear



  • My Mind Matters
  • Be who you are and say what you feel. Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~Seuss
  • Each Mind Matters
  • Laugh More, Listen More, Talk More, Reach Out
  • #YouAreNotAlone 6. #StampOutStigma
  • #DigitalDetoxUnplug #LookUpLookAroundUnplug
  • #MyStoryIsntOver.SemiColon - #Warrior. ItsOKtonotbeOK #StayStrong
  • #IamWorthyIamLovedIamEnough
  • #PerfectlyImperfect #RedefiningBeauty
  • #NotEveryDisabilityIsVisible
  • #YouAreWorthItYouAreBeautifulYouAreStrong
  • #YouDeserveRecoveryYouDeserveToBeHappy
  • #YourWeightIsNotYourWorth
  • #BeKindToYourself
  • #StandUpSpeakOutAgainstBullying
  • #AllLivesMatter

outrun stigma • 5K Walk

Raise money through runner registration and event sponsors.

gratitude tree or jar

  • Post a gratitude tree on a wall and then have students place notecards of things they are grateful for.
  • Small jars with positive messages & words of gratitude & self care ideas to handout or sell to students

let it go balloons

  • Large Poster with balloon background. Students write about things they want to let go... stresses, anger, etc. - Mad Balloons: Popping balloons with angry faces drawn on them can be a fun activity.

campus plege

Create an online pledge on

  • IDEA... - I realize that mental illness is treatable and manageable. - I understand that everyone is a valued person and deserves to be treated with respect. - I will refrain from blame, shame, secrecy, social exclusion, stereotypes or discrimination. - I will change the language I use when I talk about mental health and I will educate those who use stigmatizing language. I know that words matter. - I will educate myself about the symptoms of mental illness and any side effects that may occur from treatment plans. - I will use appropriate resources to work towards the stability of a loved one or myself. - If I am feeling suicidal, I will reach out for help. If I know someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts, I will take it seriously and make every effort to ensure they get help. - I will reduce stigma in myself and in others by being open about living with mental illness, naming it out loud and raising people’s awareness. - I will help change the way people view mental health. I will make a difference.
  • IDEA... As a supporter to those who have a mental illness or substance use disorder, I understand the importance of recognizing the high prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorders. I also know that when recognition is coupled with re-education and understanding, health-seeking action can be taken. These actions lead to recovery, which is possible for everyone. The Three R’s (recognize, re-educate and reduce) depend on each other to effectively Stamp Out Stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders. This is what I, as an individual, charge myself to do—to fully Stamp Out Stigma and clear the path to health-seeking behavior. It begins with me.

holiday candy cane messages