Frequently Asked Questions



Who was Erika?

Erika was a bright light who, sadly, lost her battle with depression in 2004 at age 14. Erika’s Lighthouse was founded in her honor and is dedicated to helping other young people learn about depression and mental health and overcome the stigma surrounding mental health disorders.

What is your mission?

Our mission is to make sure no young person feels alone in their depression. We are a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a community of empathy and education. We create upper elementary, middle school and high school mental health, depression and suicide awareness programs so educators, families and teens can create safe spaces to learn about mental health, letting students know they are never alone, and there is somewhere to turn.

Who is on your team?

Our staff is composed of mental health, public health and education professionals covering school social work, counseling and health education.  Our expertise was specifically crafted as a multi-disciplinary team that can develop and support school partners and organizations to best utilize Erika’s Lighthouse curriculum and resources.  Our board is composed of philanthropic leaders, many of whom are founding members, who are committed to furthering and supporting the mission and work of Erika’s Lighthouse. Our Professional Advisory Board is a group of passionate experts spanning mental health, education, counseling, psychology and are academics, educators, practitioners and others. Learn more about our team.

Program Philosophy


What do you mean when you say “depression education is suicide prevention”?

Over 90% of young people that die by suicide have a mental illness, the most common being depression. By educating students and addressing depression, students that are experiencing mental health issues can be identified earlier, allowing families, schools and the student themselves to access mental health resources prior to experiencing suicidal ideations. You can read more about this philosophy in this white paper.

Does your program use a screening tool?

No. Erika’s Lighthouse programs use a self-referral card so students can be empowered to talk to a trusted adult on their own. We believe that teens can change the world, and it begins with taking charge of their own mental health.

Does talking about suicide to children or teens put the idea in their head or teach them how to die by suicide?

No. Research shows that talking about suicide does not create or increase suicidal ideation. If we can create more open, inclusive cultures where conversations about mental health can be commonplace in schools and families, we can identify, intervene and support students experiencing mental health issues early and possibly prevent suicidal ideations before they begin.



I am concerned about a young person who may have depression. What can I do?

When anyone is experiencing depression, it is difficult for the whole family. Our Parent Handbook on Childhood & Teen Depression is a how-to guide to assist you and your family in helping a child who might be experiencing  depression.  In addition, we have a number of resources for families, including discussion guides and other information that may be helpful. The child or teen in your life, they may find help in our Teen Toolbox.

We are searching for a therapist, counselor or another mental health provider. Can you help?

Erika’s Lighthouse does not provide referrals to families. We suggest speaking with your child’s school counselor for local resources or using this online search tool to find the right provider for your family. Our Parent Handbook may be helpful in identifying the best provider for your child.



I am interested in starting a teen club. What should I do?

We would love to work with you! The best place to start is to educate yourself about what that entails and how we can support you. Our Teen page is designed specifically for teens and our Part I: Starting A Club Guidebook will help you get started.

I am doing a research project for school. Would it be possible to interview Erika’s Lighthouse?

While we are honored, we have a limited staff that can accommodate the many requests we receive. We would encourage you to reach out to your local heroes such as educators, school counselors or social workers that are doing the hands-on work in your school. 



Do you accept guest blogs? Can we provide a blog for a fee?

We do not accept unsolicited blog posts. All of the content on our blog is unsponsored and provided to help inform educators, families and students about mental health, depression and suicide.

Programs & Resources


How are all of your programs and resources available at no cost?

Erika’s Lighthouse is a mission-driven nonprofit organization. We operate from the generosity of our donors, school communities and strategic partners who help underwrite our success. Over 75% of our funding comes from individual donors committed to mental health and depression education by raising awareness, reducing stigma, encouraging good-mental health and encouraging help-seeking in children and teens. We welcome your support in joining our efforts. Click here to make a donation today.

How can I access your programs and resources?

Everyone has access to our evidence-informed materials by visiting and clicking on “Resource Portal” at the top right of every page. From there, create an account to gain instant access.

Is this program focused on mental health, depression or suicide prevention?

The answer is: yes. We are focused on all three topics. Erika’s Lighthouse has a holistic philosophy to school mental health. We believe schools need to have an “upstream” focus on suicide prevention, starting with an inclusive school culture around mental health that encourages conversations and open, meaningful dialogue. Our programs offer a continuum from encouraging good mental health to educating students on the signs of symptoms of depression to a focus on suicide prevention – promoting early identification and intervention. By recognizing that everyone deserves good mental health we can eliminate stigma and have more open, honest conversations around mental health, depression and suicide that will encourage help-seeking, early identification and early intervention.

Educators & School Professionals


Do I have to be a mental health professional to teach your program?

No. Our curriculum is designed to be turn-key and adaptable to circumstances and needs. All three levels of our curriculum have been successfully implemented by educators of every type and in many styles of classrooms. Our classroom education programs frequently are taught by health educators as part of mental health units in collaboration with a school counselor or social worker. It is also taught in homeroom/advisory spaces, psychology classes and many other settings. Our education team is available to work through specific challenges that your school may have.

Will you come to my school and teach the program to students, staff or families?

In general, the answer is no. We believe that mental health programs should be taught and implemented by school staff to ensure the people teaching the program are available as potential trusted adults to students that may be experiencing depression or other mental health issues. In a few unique situations, we have assisted districts with more personalized staff training, but that is not standard. You can always ask your assigned Erika’s Lighthouse Education Team Member for additional information.

Who is or how do I get assigned an Erika’s Lighthouse Education Team Member?

Once you create a Resource Portal account you will begin receiving emails from your Education Team Member who can assist you in customizing your school’s approach.

Donate & Volunteer


How can I get involved?

We have donation and volunteer opportunities online. Learn more about ways to give and how to volunteer.

Do you have group volunteer opportunities?

We do not offer group volunteer opportunities. However, we do have many ad-hoc volunteer opportunities that may be available to individuals.

I’d like to host a fundraiser. What is available?

We have many different types of options for individuals and groups looking to raise funds for Erika’s Lighthouse. Please check out our fundraising page for additional information about individual DIY options, in-home parties, community events and more.

Regional & Community-Based Organizations


Do you license your curricula, programs and resources to regional or local organizations?

Yes. We are actively seeking partners throughout the country that can assist us in facilitating programs in school communities. Please contact for additional information.

Do you have programming designed for non-school based organizations serving children and teens?

Yes, but we do not host it on our Resource Portal. We have developed a specific program in partnership with Shine Light on Depression® that is accessible at These resources were specifically created to encourage good mental health in community settings.

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