Mental health charities that don't suck
March 10, 2017 8:24 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to give/raise money to a mental health charity that isn't terrible, and actually does things. Which one am I looking for?

In this new age of charitable giving, I am very interested in raising some money for mental illness, a cause close to my heart. However, as a lot of you already know, most mental health charities seems to either be a) small vanity non-profits started by celebrities that spend all their money on marketing or b) NAMI.*

Where's the ACLU of mental health charities? I've heard some good things about Bazelon and the American Association of Suicidology. I'm looking for a place that does more than organize awareness walks for family members, and is to some extent concerned with self-advocacy.

* Suffice to say there's a lot of criticism of NAMI, and I'm a person who agrees with a lot of it.
posted by colorblock sock to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you're okay with specific mental illnesses, the International OCD Foundation in Boston does great work. From their website:

The Foundation aims to improve outcomes for individuals with OCD and related disorders by:

Providing resources and support for those affected by OCD, including individuals with OCD and related disorders, their family members, friends, and loved ones.
Promoting awareness about OCD and related disorders to the OCD community and the general public.
Increasing access to effective treatment through:
Educating mental health professionals about evidence-based treatments.
Providing a forum for professional collaboration and networking.
Supporting research into the causes of and treatments for OCD and related disorders.

OCD is still, unfortunately, very much a "Ha ha, I need to clean my room, I must have OCD" joke but for those who live with it, it can be a debilitating nightmare.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:19 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

You could look at recommendations from charity watchdogs. This article lists three main US watchdogs and describes some of the criteria they use to assess charities.
posted by yesbut at 3:22 AM on March 11, 2017

Are you into national organizations only, or are local and regional organizations okay?
posted by ramenopres at 7:06 AM on March 11, 2017

As kanata suggests, I would look for peer-run groups and organizations, preferably those (unlike NAMI) that emphasize the experiences of people dealing with mental-health challenges themselves, rather than the experiences of their family members. CAMHPRO is one I've been following on Facebook, mostly due to an off-the-cuff recommendation rather than any research on my part, but it might be a good place to start finding other orgs or types of orgs or increasing your search-term vocabulary. Searching for [your place name] and "mental health empowerment" might also turn up some local groups for you.
posted by lazuli at 4:18 PM on March 11, 2017

Oh, and "The ACLU of mental-health charities," in terms of a national organization fighting for the legal rights of those with disabilities, including psychiatric disabilities, is the ACLU.
posted by lazuli at 4:27 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Herren Project for alcohol and drug use disorders. The organization does everything from support the family to pay for people to go to detox/rehab.
posted by Jewel98 at 9:06 PM on March 11, 2017

You might look into donating directly to a local non-profit counseling center that offers sliding-scale visits and/or takes Medicaid. I don't know what your area is, but for example I would recommend something like Community Counseling Centers of Chicago in my city. (Full disclosure, I used to be an employee there.)
posted by tivalasvegas at 11:06 PM on March 11, 2017

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