The vision of the Mental Health Foundation is to create and inspire communities in which challenges to good mental health are recognized, understood, accepted, and treated.
Our mission is this: In order to ensure every individual is supported in their journey to a full, healthy life, we educate and build awareness throughout the community about suicide prevention and other challenges to good mental health.
In 2004, Kent County Suicide Coalition studies showed an increase in death by suicide among teenagers between the ages of 14 and 24 in Kent County. The Executive Director, Christy Buck and her staff decided it was time to do something about this! In- line with our mission “to create and sustain a community which supports and understands people with mental illness,” we created our Live Laugh Love: Educating Youth about Mental Health Program.
In 2006, the Mental Health Foundation received a Federal Block Grant to pilot the Live Laugh Love Program. The block grant ended in 2007 and the sustainability of this program has been dependent upon funding from grants, foundations, fundraising and private donations. The education Program is now entering its seventh year and has not only managed to sustain, but has expanded.
Our Live Laugh Love: Educating Youth about Mental Health Program is a comprehensive mental health curriculum taught in middle and high school classrooms. A variety of lesson plans and topics address the current mental health conditions that students are experiencing in their day to day lives; bullying, depression and coping skills, just to name a few! Our unique program is currently being taught in Grandville, Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Kentwood, and Forest Hills Public School Districts. Only 10% of school systems across America have a comprehensive mental health program in their schools. We have presented Live Laugh Love to more than 12,000 students throughout Kent County.
In 2011, we started an anti-bullying initiative called "be nice." The initiative has taken off, and not only do we have our own line of be nice. merchandise, it has also become a program that has been embraced by schools throughout the West Michigan area.
At the core of be nice. is the idea that your words and actions have a tremendous power, the power to change someone's life. How you treat others can have a major impact on their mental health (how they think, act and feel). Simple efforts on your part to infuse positivity into negative situations can make someone's day and even save their life! This is the powerful, positive message behind be nice.
Want to help? Click here to find out the various ways you can help sustain the be nice. initiative or the Live, Laugh, Love: Educating our Youth about Mental Health Program.