9 Best Charities for Mental Health (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities for Mental Health (Complete 2022 List)

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Alycia O'Dell

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1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth experience mental illness each year. Yet, approximately 50% of individuals with mental health issues do not seek treatment due to stigma, lack of awareness, and lack of access. Organizations around the world are working to remove barriers to mental health treatment. So, we had to ask: what are the best charities for mental health?

The best charities for mental health are The National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America. Charities such as The Jed Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention work to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and promote awareness.

Whether you want to raise mental health awareness on school campuses, fund cutting-edge research to better understand mental illness, or help a military family manage their mental health together, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities for mental health are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Related: Did you know that you can make Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Sign up at smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your donations to go to, and make Amazon donate a part of your purchases to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

Here’s What All the Best Charities for Mental Health Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements. The majority operate primarily throughout the US and Canada, but some support mental health internationally.

Many of these charities support mental health across all ages and populations. Others focus on specific populations such as children, young adults, and military families. Some offer direct support by providing individual and group therapy, and resources for treatment, while others fund research to better understand the underlying causes of mental illness and improve treatment. Yet, they all share a common goal; to support mental health.

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Mental Health

Below are our favorite charities for mental health:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Mental Health America
  • The Jed Foundation
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Child Mind Institute
  • StrongMinds
  • Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
  • Active Minds
  • Project Sanctuary

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

National Alliance on Mental Illness: Destigmatizing Mental Health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness was founded in 1979 by a small group of families to provide solidarity and support to people suffering from mental illness. Today, the organization works to raise awareness and provide support to those in need in communities across the US.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives the National Alliance on Mental Illness a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

“Changing the mental health conversation, together.”

National Alliance on mental Illness

What they do: The National Alliance on Mental Illness improves the lives of those with mental illness and their families through advocacy, education, support, and public awareness. Their education program features classes for people with mental illness as well as stakeholders such as family members, significant others, and providers. They also provide peer support to those seeking guidance and resources via their 24-hour HelpLine.

What they’ve achieved: The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a grassroots mental health organization that helps those affected through a network of over 600 affiliates and 49 state organizations across the US. For example, in 2021, they distributed $3.5 million in grants to advance the work of their network. In the same year, their annual fundraiser, NAMIWalks Your Way, raised $13.1 million across 122 events with over 40,000 participants nationwide. The charity was also cited by federal legislators more often than any other mental health organization in 2021.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to the National Alliance on Mental Illness via their website. You can also contribute by registering to participate in NamiWalks Your Way, or by volunteering to work on the HelpLine.

Mental Health America: Action Before Crisis

Mental Health America was founded in 1909 by Clifford W. Beers. After experiencing years of abuse in public and private mental institutions, Beers committed to reforming mental health care. Today, Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of the mentally ill and promoting mental health for all.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives Mental Health America a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

Crisis is not a starting point.”

Mental Health America

What they do: Mental Health America promotes mental health and mental illness prevention through advocacy, education, research, and integrative services. Their efforts are guided by their “B4Stage4” philosophy, which posits that mental health conditions should be treated before they reach a critical point. Through education and outreach, they help people of all ages better understand prevention, early identification, and intervention of mental illness. Their network of over 200 affiliates works with state and local policymakers to develop policies that promote mental health, including Medicaid expansion, integrating mental health services into primary healthcare. They offer peer-to-peer support through their Peer Partners Program and provide resources on becoming a Peer Support Specialist.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Mental Health America has educated millions of people about mental illness and reduced barriers to treatment and services. So far, their MHA Screening, which provides confidential, clinically validated screens for mental illness, has screened 7,460,734 individuals. For example, in 2020 alone, their public education efforts have reached millions, with 19,045,019 people.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to Mental Health America via their website. You can also get involved by joining their advocacy movement or creating your own fundraiser.

The Jed Foundation: Mental health for Young Adults

The Jed Foundation was founded in 2000 by Donna and Phil Satow after they lost their son, Jed, to suicide and realized the lack of suicide prevention programs on high school and college campuses. Today, they are the nation’s leading organization dedicated to young adult mental health.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives The Jed Foundation a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

Together, we’re changing and saving lives.

The Jed Foundation

What they do: The Jed Foundation promotes mental health and suicide prevention by equipping teens and young adults with resources to help themselves and each other. They reach individual teens and young adults through media campaigns and partnerships. For example, they partnered with MTV Entertainment Group to found the Mental Health is Health initiative, an online resource that provides tips, tools, and support for teens and young adults navigating new experiences. The charity also works together with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs. For example, their school support programs, JED Campus and JED High School, integrate systems, programs, and policies to promote mental wellness and a culture of support.

What they’ve achieved: Through their campaigns and resources, the Jed Foundation has educated more than 36 million people about how to support teen and young adult mental health. Their curricula are utilized at more than 9,500 high schools and 370 colleges across the US, reaching over 4.8 million students

Ways to contribute: You can make a monetary donation to The Jed Foundation via their website. You can also get involved by volunteering or starting your own fundraiser.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Understanding and Preventing Suicide

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention was founded in 1987 by a small group of families who had each lost a loved one to suicide. Alarmed by the rise in suicide rates among young people, they joined with scientists to establish a source for suicide research and prevention. Today, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention remains dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, and advocacy.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Gold Seal of Transparency. 

Suicide stops here.”

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

What they do: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community of resources to understand and prevent suicide. They provide individuals impacted by suicide in any capacity – from those experiencing suicidal ideation, to survivors, to families dealing with loss – with resources for support. For example, their Healing Conversations program connects those who have lost a loved one to suicide with volunteers who have also experienced a loss to offer guidance and support. The organization also awards grants to increase understanding of suicide and develop treatments and interventions. And they increase awareness of the warning signs of suicide and intervention through education initiatives and social media campaigns.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has provided resources and tools to save the lives of young people at risk for suicide. For example, in 2021 alone, their Interactive Screening Program, an online program that tests individuals for suicide risk factors, anonymously connected more than 200,000 people to professional health. In the same year, they have invested over $20 million in suicide research, awarding more than $6.2 million in grants. In total, their advocacy efforts have played a role in the passing of more than 50 state laws and 13 major federal policies.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention via their website. You can also participate in an event or start a social media fundraising campaign.

Child Mind Institute: Mental Health in the Developing Brain

The Child Mind Institute was founded in 2009 by Dr. Harold Koplewiscz to increase access to diagnosis and treatment for children with mental health and learning challenges. After experiencing poor mental health treatment as a child, Koplewiscz recognized the need for care that was effective and compassionate. Today, they are the leading independent non-profit in children’s mental health.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives the Child Mind Institute a 3-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

Reaching struggling kids wherever they are.”

Child Mind Institute

What they do: The Child Mind Institute helps children with mental health and learning challenges through three initiative areas: care, education, and science. Their care initiative offers evaluation and treatment for a wide variety of mental health and learning concerns. Their education initiative includes the Family Resource Center and School and Community Programs, which provide families and communities with resources to promote children’s mental health. Their science initiative drives research into causes of mental health and learning challenges in developing brains and adapts treatments accordingly.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Child Mind Institute has treated more than 13,110 patients, over 75% of whom received services for free or at reduced cost. Their Healthy Brain Network has included more than 5,510 participants, and the data has been cited in more than 1,289 research articles. And, for example, in 2021, more than 17 million people visited the organization’s website for free, evidence-based resources on children’s mental health.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to the Child Mind Institute via their website. You can also register to participate in an event by attending or becoming a sponsor.

StrongMinds: Mental Health Care for Women in Africa

StrongMinds was founded in 2013 by Sean Mayberry. While implementing HIV/AIDS and Malaria programs in Africa, he recognized the need for targeted mental health services for women. Today, they are the only organization scaling a cost-effective solution to the depression epidemic in Africa.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives StrongMinds a 100% rating for Finance and Accountability. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

“When you invest in mental health, you invest in human resilience.”

StrongMinds

What they do: StrongMinds treat depression in African women by providing group talk therapy sessions. In these sessions, they provide women with a safe space to discuss triggers and solutions and connect with other women suffering from depression. To ensure that their model is sustainable and cost-effective, StrongMinds trains members of local communities, including former clients, to lead sessions on their own.

What they’ve achieved: Since their inception, StongMinds has treated more than 121,000 women for depression in Uganda and Zambia. 86% of those reported being depression-free six months after treatment. Amid the height of COVID-19 restrictions, StrongMinds launched its teletherapy initiative to serve over 7,800 women remotely. To date, the charity has raised $7,252,778 to support their efforts.

Ways to contribute: You can make a monetary donation to StrongMinds via their website. You can also start a fundraiser.

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation: Funding Mental Health Innovation

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation was founded in 1987 by a small group of family members of individuals with mental illnesses determined to increase the pace of research to find causes, treatments, and cures for mental illness. Today, they are the top non-governmental funder of mental health research grants in the US.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation a 3-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

Funding cutting-edge research to find cures for mental illness.

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

What they do: The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation improves the lives of people with mental illness by funding the most innovative ideas in neuroscience. They award grants to scientists researching new ways to understand, prevent, and treat mental illness. For example, in 2005, they funded research on a new technology called Optogenetics, which is now in use at thousands of labs around the world.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has awarded more than $430 million to fund more than 6,200 grants. Their funding has directly contributed to some of the biggest breakthroughs in the mental health community, including the first fast-acting antidepressants, non-invasive brain stimulation, and computer-guided early diagnosis of mental illness.

Ways to contribute: You can make a monetary donation to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation via their website. You can also get involved by sponsoring an event or creating your own fundraiser.

Active Minds: Creating Hope out of Tragedy

Active Minds was founded by Alison Malmon in 2003 following the death of her brother by suicide. Recognizing the lack of mental health awareness groups on her university campus, she created her own. Today, Active Minds is one of the most preeminent organizations promoting mental health among teens and young adults.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives Active Minds a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

Changing the culture around mental health.”

Active Minds

What they do: Active Minds works to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health on campuses, in the workplace, and in communities, by offering programs and services tailored to each of these environments. For example, Active Minds @Work offers simple and actionable tools for employees and employers to improve the culture of mental health in the workplace. Their campus initiatives, including both k-12 and college campuses, utilize a peer-to-peer approach to destigmatizing mental health. They also engage communities through awareness campaigns and resources.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Active Minds has impacted more than 8 million students in more than 600 chapters on college and high school campuses across the US. Each year, they host more than 6,000 community events. For example, one of their most notable awareness events is Send Silence Packing, which they have organized since 2008 at over 200 locations across the US.

Ways to contribute: You can donate to Active Minds via their website. You can also get involved by bringing Active Minds to your campus or community or creating your own fundraiser.

Project Sanctuary: Mental Health for Healing Families

Project Sanctuary was founded in 2007 by Heather Ehle after finding that while many organizations supported the mental health of service members and veterans, none existed to support their families. Today, Project Sanctuary is one of the only organizations focused on the mental health of the military family unit.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Charity Navigator gives Project Sanctuary a 4-star rating. GuideStar gives the charity a Platinum Seal of Transparency. 

Helping Military families heal and move forward in life.”

Project Sanctuary

What they do: Project Sanctuary hosts military families at six-day therapeutic retreats focused on recreation, education, and counseling. During these retreats, families learn skills vital to family mental health, such as conflict resolution and communication. The retreats also include workshops that educate families on stressors common to military families such as financial literacy, Post Traumatic Stress, and teen issues. Participants also have the opportunity to attend family, couple, and individual counseling sessions.

What they’ve achieved: Since their founding, Project Sanctuary has expanded their services to include almost 30 retreats in 6 states. And, for example, in 2018, Project Sanctuary was the subject of a study from Clemson University evaluating the effectiveness of recreation-based therapy for injured service members; results indicated that participation led to reduced levels of stress, anxiety, and depression

Ways to contribute: You can donate to Project Sanctuary via their website. You can also get involved by volunteering at a retreat or participating in their annual fundraiser, The Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Poker Classic.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities for mental health. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to mental health – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Alycia

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

Sources

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Alycia O'Dell

Alycia loves to research and write about organizations that invest in the health and welfare of marginalized communities. She holds a master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and works with children with autism. Outside of work, she is a new mom to twins and loves helping them learn and explore.

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