Since the organization was founded in 2004, it has touched the lives of more than 2.6 million students.

Erika’s Lighthouse, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating and raising awareness about adolescent depression, encouraging good mental health and addressing, and ultimately, eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health issues, announced today that it is celebrating its 20th anniversary of providing depression education and suicide prevention programming to upper elementary, middle schools, and high schools. Erika’s Lighthouse provides free depression and suicide awareness resources for educators, families, and school staff. This allows teens to have a safe space for them to learn about mental health, letting them know they are never alone, and there is always somewhere to turn. Since the organization was founded in 2004, it has touched the lives of 2.6 million students in schools nationwide.

When Ginny and Tom Neuckranz lost their beautiful daughter Erika to teenage depression in 2004, they turned her suffering into hope for other families. Erika’s loss was a rallying point for a community in pain and one that became dedicated to helping make sure every child, every school, and every community is aware of adolescent depression. Over the last 20 years, Erika’s Lighthouse has become an essential resource for schools as they joined the organization to Get Depression Out of the Dark.
“In Erika’s name, and in her spirit, we have turned outwards, expanding our circle of hope by offering mental health curriculum and wellness clubs to youth around the country so they can recognize the signs in themselves for mental health issues and are not afraid to ask for help,” said Ginny and Tom Neuckranz, the founders of Erika’s Lighthouse. “Our journey has been marked by resilience, compassion, and unwavering dedication to our mission of encouraging good mental health. We look forward to continuing our work, expanding our reach, and fostering a world where mental health is destigmatized, and every young person feels empowered to seek support and embrace their well-being.”

A key focus at Erika’s Lighthouse is to provide programs and resources that are equitable and sustainable, which is why all its programs are free. Educators can bring it to their school by creating an account at www.erikaslighthouse.org/portal and they will gain immediate access to a suite of programs that promote inclusive school cultures around mental health. Once logged in, educators will have access to materials for Classroom Education grades 4-12, Empowerment Clubs, Family Engagement, and Policy and Staff Development resources.

In the 2023-24 School Year, Erika’s Lighthouse programming touched the lives of more than 550,000 students in 2,000+ schools through 49 states. This includes work across its four pillars to put free and easy-to-use school mental health programs in place to end the youth mental health crisis at the start. Together, the following pillars can promote an inclusive school culture around mental health.
Classroom Education, which provides lessons about mental health, depression, and suicide for grades 4-12.
Empowerment Clubs that empower young people to change the world through mental health groups.
Family Engagement offers programs and resources for families to be partners in mental health.
Policy and Staff Training to encourage staff well-being activities and promote an inclusive school culture.

“Over the past two decades, Erika’s Lighthouse has evolved from a humble vision into a beacon of hope for countless adolescents and families experiencing mental health challenges,” said Brandon Combs, the Executive Director of Erika’s Lighthouse. “As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we reflect proudly on how far we’ve come, but our eyes remain fixed on the future. Looking ahead, we remain steadfast in our dedication to expanding our reach and ensuring that every student has the knowledge and support they need to navigate life’s challenges with resilience and hope.”

Erika’s Lighthouse offers free, evidence-informed curricula for grades 4-12.

  • Level I for Grades 4-6
    • We All Have Mental Health; An introduction to mental health with a strong focus on help-seeking and good mental health.
  • Level II for grades 5-9
    • Depression Awareness; An introduction to depression with a strong focus on help-seeking and good mental health.
  • Level III for grades 8-12
    • Depression Education and Suicide Awareness; A deeper discussion about depression and suicide along with a focus on help-seeking and good mental health.

To commemorate its 20th anniversary, Erika’s Lighthouse will be hosting an invitation-only dinner on Tuesday, June 4 at the Michigan Shores Club in Wilmette. It will feature speakers who have been touched by the organization reflecting on where the organization started and looking ahead to the future.

About Erika’s Lighthouse
Erika’s Lighthouse is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating and raising awareness about adolescent depression, encouraging good mental health, and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Depression is a major risk factor for teen suicide. The organization works to eliminate the stigma surrounding depression and empower young people to take ownership of their mental health. Core programs include We All Have Mental Health, which is for grades four through six; Depression Awareness for grades five through nine; and Depression Education and Suicide Awareness for high school students. Erika’s Lighthouse also offers a suite of programs designed to allow educators to empower adolescents with an introduction to mental health, depression literacy, help-seeking and what it takes to promote good mental health. More information is available at https://www.erikaslighthouse.org/.

# # #

For media inquiries, please contact Joshua Taustein at josh@erikaslighthouse.org.