Why we do what we do

Erika’s Lighthouse was founded in 2014, with a mission to make sure no young person feels alone in their depression. We are dedicated to creating a community of empathy and education. We have created professional, evidence-informed middle and high school teen depression awareness programs free of charge. This enables educators and teens to create safe spaces to learn about depression, letting students know they are never alone, and there is somewhere to turn.

“Our goal is to give kids the vocabulary to talk about this issue—talking about it openly removes stigma,” founder Ginny Neuckranz explains. “We want to harness the power of education and awareness to change a school’s culture around mental illness.”

The curriculum shares its lessons via a series of videos of fellow teens talking in their own words. This peer-to-peer approach allows teens in the classroom to learn about a true and realistic portrayal of what living with depression looks like. “So many young people don’t understand what’s going on inside their minds or that of a friend. We want to demonstrate how to adopt and maintain healthy coping strategies. Depression is a mysterious illness, but there are so many ways to combat it,” Neuckranz says.

By the Numbers:

Erika’s Lighthouse is proud to be a global organization, currently serving 5 countries, 39 states, 362 schools and impacting 129,000 teens. This number continues to grow along with our team and network of outstanding and committed volunteers. Our goal is to see the number of teens impacted rise and the number of teens struggling with depression, mental health challenges or suicidal thoughts decrease.

High School Educational Testimonial

What I like best about the Erika’s Lighthouse program is that it is extremely user friendly and is a turnkey program. The resources provided fit nicely into an already packed curriculum. Jason Dane – Health Teacher, New Trier High School

Middle School Educational Testimonial

Erika’s Lighthouse is a safe haven for our students. They benefit by learning about the signs of depression and how to help themselves and others. They also learn how to take good care of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. Ruby Devega/Mandy Scee – Osceola Creek Middle School

Teen Empowerment

Erika’s Lighthouse also promotes and supports Teen Empowerment Clubs. It has been proven that dialogue is the best way to reduce the stigma of adolescent depression. Student-powered awareness is the most effective way to encourage communication. When students talk, other students listen. When teens highlight the importance of learning about adolescent depression, it shows their peers that there is nothing to be ashamed of. It demonstrates that those suffering from depression don’t have to hide. To date, over 20,000 students have been impacted by our teen clubs.

Getting involved with Erika’s Lighthouse was an amazing way for me and other teenagers to understand that depression is not something to be ashamed of, but rather a topic we must further discuss. Everyone deserves good mental health, and organizations like this one are giving hope to those who need it. I will always be grateful for being a part of this organization that continues to impact many teenagers. Edgar Avalos, Teen Participant , Rolling Meadows High School

Watch some of our video testimonials to discover more of what our advocates have to say about how our free programming has made a difference in helping to Get Depression Out of the Dark.