Erika’s Lighthouse Core Value Series Part 1: Classroom Education

Do you think students would benefit from depression and mental health education in your community? According to the Pew Research Center, the number of teens experiencing depression has increased by 59% between 2007 and 2017. There is a growing need for depression education and suicide awareness in our communities. In a 2022 study, Pew reported that 44% of students said they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row such that they stopped doing usual activities in the past 12 months. 

About Erika’s Lighthouse

Erika’s Lighthouse is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 that is dedicated to educating teens and raising awareness surrounding depression and mental health. Our programs are tailored to our mission of making sure no young person feels alone in their depression. Erika’s Lighthouse strives to help teens create an inclusive school culture and eliminate the stigma of mental health. Our evidence-informed programs not only bring awareness to young people about depression and mental health; they build a structure for young people to thrive and survive, even when they might be experiencing depression.

Erika’s Lighthouse offers Four Pillars for school communities to use to promote an inclusive school culture: Classroom Education, Teen Empowerment, Family Engagement, and School Policy & Staff Development. The Four Pillars categorize resources specific to the group they’re appropriate for. They allow schools the opportunity to deliver school-wide programming to promote an inclusive culture around mental health. Our Four Pillar Implementation Guide makes it easy for schools to utilize and implement our programs school-wide. 

Classroom Education

At Erika’s Lighthouse, we believe depression education is suicide prevention. That’s why our Classroom Education pillar has programs targeted to the appropriate grade levels:

  • Level I, ideal for grades 4-6, is an introduction to mental health by understanding everyday feelings versus overwhelming feelings. 
  • Level II, suitable for grades 5-9, is an introduction to depression by recognizing signs and symptoms. 
  • Level III, ideal for grades 8-12 focuses on a deeper discussion about depression and suicide. 


Using Erika’s Lighthouse Level II and III programs, 90% of students were able to recognize and correctly identify 5 of 7 signs and symptoms of depression– including thoughts of suicide or self-harm. 

How Erika’s Lighthouse Programs Work

Erika’s Lighthouse highlights real teens and real stories in our programming so that when students talk, other students listen. Our programs aim to help reduce the stigma of mental illness and demonstrate that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Programs with impact can change how teens see themselves and how the community responds to young people who may be struggling. In addition, all of our programs have bilingual resources and subtitles. 

Because of our classroom education programs, more than 86% of students demonstrated an increase in knowledge surrounding depression and mental health.  

Join Our Community

The Classroom Education pillar is essential to our programs because education provides a foundation by leveraging a shared vocabulary that helps young people, families, and educators have meaningful conversations. Though our classroom education programs make a difference, it’s not nearly the only one that is impacting students. Erika’s Lighthouse Four Pillars impacted 402,000 students last year and your school can join us in reducing the stigma and educating teens on their mental health.

Sign up and gain access to free programs and resources