12+ Inspiring mental health awareness organizations 

April 16, 2020 | Gabrielle Weiss
12+ Inspiring mental health awareness organizations

Approximately 1 in 5 American adults experiences some sort of mental illness. Lack of access to appropriate mental health care can have serious consequences for those affected, including an increased likelihood of hospitalization, homelessness, incarceration, and suicide. Thankfully, nonprofit health care providers have stepped up to bridge the gap and provide necessary care to their communities.

Here are 13 mental health awareness organizations that we admire because of their commitment to providing high-quality, affordable mental health care services.

1. Bright Harbor Healthcare

Originally established as Ocean Mental Health Services, Bright Harbor Healthcare has since evolved along with the needs of their community to provide services to adults, children, and families. They encourage their community to think of their health as more than just physical well-being and give their mental health the care and attention it needs. 

Bright Harbor Healthcare seeks to address all mental health care and wellness issues with their crisis center, substance abuse program, outpatient services, child and family services, and more. In addition to providing comprehensive mental health services, Bright Harbor Healthcare offers a unique educational offering in the form of Ocean Academy, a small therapeutic school that works with students who need mental health support to succeed academically.

2. Positive Education Program

Cleveland’s Positive Education Program (PEP) was created as a consulting organization for area school districts to help them serve students with mental health challenges. However, it quickly became apparent that the districts needed specialized centers dedicated to helping students with their mental health and creating pathways for them to succeed. Today, PEP operates six Day Treatment Centers and other programs in the Cleveland area.

One aspect of PEP’s program that stands out is its community-based model. This model works with everyone involved in the child’s life to create a strategic plan of care aimed at helping the child access support from the community. The primary goal of PEP’s integrated special education and mental health services is to enable children and youth to succeed in their own school districts.

3. Pacific Clinics

As California’s largest community-based behavioral and mental health services nonprofit, Pacific Clinics provides comprehensive care with over 2,000 employees who can communicate with patients in 22 different languages. 

Along with offering a full range of mental health services aimed at being culturally sensitive, trauma-informed, and research-based, Pacific Clinics also provides a head start program for children ages 0-5. Families that enroll in this free program can provide their children with education, childcare, and meals to prepare them for kindergarten. With this early start, children enrolled are more likely to finish high school and go on to attend college to earn their degrees.

4. The Village Network

The Village Network is a behavioral health organization helping youth and families in Ohio and West Virginia have healthier, brighter futures. Their vision is to become a national leader in the sphere of youth and family behavioral health, and in many areas, they’re already leading the way. The Village Network considers itself a nonprofit with a for-profit mentality. They use sound business principles such as research-based leadership to build a forward-thinking and constantly developing model that helps youth rise above adverse childhood experiences to lead healthy and positive lives.

To help youth self-regulate and experience happy, healthy relationships with family and peers, The Village Network takes a multi-faceted approach to the trauma healing process and provides a continuum of care based on families’ needs.

5. Whitman Walker Health

Whitman 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 has access to health care—ranging from mental health and gender affirming care to dental health—without fear of discrimination or judgment. 

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. Their policy is 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.”

6. South End Community Health Center

The South End Community Health Center is a nonprofit health care organization for residents of Boston’s South End. 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.”

South End Community’s mental health and behavioral counseling services are available to youth, family, couples, and individuals seeking assistance. Their team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers are trained to help individuals with more complex needs, such as chronic mental illness, and those seeking more specialized treatment.

7. Community of Hope

Community of Hope provides health care and housing services to Washington D.C.’s homeless population. They highlight the role mental health care serves 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 patients can live healthy and fulfilling lives in all areas. 

Community of Hope provides emotional wellness services designed to help individuals who are going through a mental health crisis but aren’t sure what type of illness they are potentially facing. Additionally, Community of Hope provides addiction and substance abuse treatment for those looking for a safe, confidential provider while overcoming homelessness.

8. HealthRIGHT 360

With their firm belief that health care is a right, not a privilege, HealthRIGHT 360 is a network of integrated health programs that serve patients across California, regardless of their ability to pay. 

Their Integrated Care Center provides a new model for delivering health care and wellness programs to low-income and homeless patients seeking care. In their care center, clients can receive comprehensive treatment services in one place, including: primary medical care, dentistry, mental health services, substance use disorder treatment, housing referral, adult education, and more. For clients who may lack reliable transportation access and access to information and health resources, this model ensures that both physical and mental health care needs are met.

9. Sheppard Pratt Health System

Sheppard Pratt Health System (SPHS) is the largest nonprofit 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.

With over 160 programs, SPHS is ready to help patients on a grand scale and has specialties in homelessness services, crisis assistance, developmental disabilities, and more. Additionally, SPHS offers a comprehensive online resource for individuals looking to learn more about mental health. Their knowledge center provides a glossary for conditions and diagnoses, treatments, and other vocabulary patients may want to research, including information about health insurance, LBGT+ identities, and health care essentials.

10. So Others Might Eat

So 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 food and clothing, SOME advocates for policies that will benefit the constituencies they serve, including mental healthcare policies, 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.

11. National Alliance on Mental Illness 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is one the largest organizations in the U.S. dedicated to mental health awareness and advocacy. NAMI provides educational programs and hosts public awareness events to destigmatize mental illness and help affected individuals and their families find help. 

NAMI also focuses on public policy and runs advocacy campaigns that seek federal change for how mental health conditions are treated and supported. Along with these campaigns and services, individuals can also use NAMI’s website as a resource for learning more about mental health conditions and how to find care. 

12. Active Minds

Active Minds is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mental health awareness, specifically for young adults between the ages of 14-25. Their programs often take a peer-to-peer approach, citing how young adults affected by suicidal thoughts are likely to reach out to a friend for help before seeking assistance themselves. They also focus on providing young adults with strategies for speaking out about mental health and creating environments where seeking treatment is destigmatized. 

Recently, Active Minds has focused on taking an equity-driven approach to conversations about mental health, centering on issues that disproportionately impact BIPOC and LBGT+ individuals. These programs have been created for and launched on campuses, K-12 schools, workplaces, and across communities. 

13. The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is a mental health organization devoted to providing LGBT+ youth with resources and support. Their mental health resources focus on sharing information on LGBT+ topics, suicide, and other pressing issues, such as equity, international support, and the COVID-19 pandemic

The Trevor Project also provides 24/7 confidential counseling. Individuals who need immediate support due to having thoughts of self-harm can reach out through chat, text, or a phone call and be paired with one of the Trevor Project’s trained counselors. 


Access to mental health care can make the difference for children, families, and individuals across the country, empowering them to achieve their goals and live fulfilling and successful lives. Nonprofit health care 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 they serve. Throughout the year, we’re thankful for the organizations and their staff who work to ensure that mental health care is accessible to everyone.