These Heroes Are Making a Huge Difference for Children With Mental Health Disorders

Get inspired and vote for the person you think is doing the most to support kids with mental health and learning disorders in the Child Mind Institute's Change Maker Awards.

Boy Raising Hand In Classroom skynesher/iStock

One thing parents can all agree on: Nothing matters more than our children's health, and the people who work tirelessly to fight for it deserve our deepest appreciation.

So, here's a super easy way to show yours: Vote in the Child Mind Institute's Annual Change Maker Awards, a celebration of individuals and organizations supporting kids and families dealing with mental health and learning disorders. There are three prizes: two for awe-inspiring organizations, and one—the People's Choice Award— for the rockstars who are truly heroes walking among us. (Yep, they're our favorite.)

The Child Mind Institute—a non-profit partner of Parents—narrowed the nominees down to six incredible finalists and the work each one is doing is guaranteed to inspire you. Take a look:

Photo Gary_Altheim

GARY ALTHEIM, Growth and Development Services: Gary founded Growth and Development Services, Inc. (GDS) and Camp Excel in 1996 to serve vulnerable, at-risk youth from some of the toughest neighborhoods in Northern Manhattan and New York City. GDS helps address the burdens of family instability, violence, mental health, and learning disabilities.

Photo Scilla Andreen

SCILLA ANDREEN, IndieFlix Foundation: Scilla's mission is to use film to start movements that can change the world for the better. Scilla joined forces with producing partner Karin Gornick to produce Angst, a 56-minute documentary designed to raise awareness around anxiety and open up the conversation about mental health. Screened in schools, corporations, and communities, Angst fosters empathy and understanding from the classroom to the boardroom. 

Photo Kurt and Tricia Baker

TRICIA AND KURT BAKER, Attitudes in Reverse (AIR): Tricia and Kurt established AIR shortly after losing their son to suicide. They immediately embarked on a mission to eliminate stigma and to encourage people to seek help when needed. Since 2011, they have spoken with more than 63,000 middle, high school, and college students about mental health and suicide prevention.

Photo Nicole Hockley

NICOLE HOCKLEY, Sandy Hook Promise: Since the tragic death of her son Dylan, one of 20 first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Nicole has focused on bringing people together in honest dialogue and searching for innovative solutions in the areas of mental health, school safety, community building, and gun safety. To date, she has educated and trained more than 2.5 million youths, teens, and adults in all 50 states. Her passionate work has resulted in the prevention of multiple school shooting plots and several teen suicides, as well as other violent acts.

Photo Randi Silverman

RANDI SILVERMAN, Youth Mental Health Project: Randi co-founded the Youth Mental Health Project in 2016 to empower families and communities to act with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to support the social, emotional, mental, and behavioral health of youth. Randi used her real-life experiences as a parent of a child with a mental health disorder to write and produce No Letting Go, which has received critical acclaim from film reviewers and mental health organizations alike, winning more than 20 awards at independent film festivals worldwide.

Photo Rosalie Whitlock

ROSALIE WHITLOCK, Children's Health Council: A tireless advocate for kids and families, Rosalie is the executive director of Children's Health Council (CHC), a Northern California nonprofit which provides education and clinical services for children, teens, and young adults with attention and learning differences and the anxiety and depression that often accompany them. CHC employs innovative and collaborative practices to reduce stigma around these conditions and assure that all kids, teens, and young adults have a chance to reach their full promise and potential. CHC provides direct education and clinical assistance to approximately 1,800 families each year and serves another 1,500 participants through community education and engagement programs.

You can check out nominees in the other categories, and—of course—vote, right here. Online voting is open now and runs through March 23, 2018.