You Know What We Need? Early Mental Health Education

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 3 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 had at least one major depressive episode in the year of 2015 – and these are just recorded episodes. This is why we need early mental health education.

Mental illnesses cause changes in functions such as sleeping, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image. It is extremely harmful to a child’s development to experience negative changes in these functions between ages 12 and 17. This is why we need early mental health education.

I work at a local inner city after school program. One day, I was doing a craft in the art room with some of my students. I soon learned that the art room triples as the music room and health room. I curiously asked a third-grader I’m close with what she learns about in health class. I was hoping to hear something about happiness, healthy foods, or exercise. The answer I actually got was, “Drugs, alcohol, and stuff.” This is why we need early mental health education.

I know this was just one student’s opinion. But it was also a very mature, kind nine-year-old’s opinion. It made me wonder, if this is was her key takeaway from third grade health class, what could other students possibly be taking away? When did we get to the point where substance abuse is so prominent that substance education comes before mental health education? Especially considering how depression and substance abuse have common triggers? This is why we need early mental health education.

Many adolescents are more comfortable talking about drugs and alcohol than they are talking about why they’re feeling sad. We are not making mental health a comfortable dialogue, leaving children fearful to share their emotions. This is why we need early mental health education.

In case I haven’t said it enough already… We need early mental health education.

Early mental health education doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s mostly just about starting the conversation around mental health, and starting it early. One way to do this is to simply ask a child to share a happy moment from his or her day. If age appropriate, and if there are any suspicions, you could ask for a happy and a bad or “crappy” moment, too, to see if something negative might be going on. This ritual, if started at a young age with a trusted parent, guardian, or educator, could open up the dialogue a lot more than you might think.

I’m not saying we need to give third graders the textbook definition of every mental illness. I am, however, saying that we need to teach children about self-love, self-esteem, and happiness at home and in the classroom, starting at a young age. We need to reduce the negative stigma of mental health disorders, of sharing feelings or seeking help. This could make all the difference in the overall development and quality of life for so many children and young adults.

This is why we need early mental health education.


4 Free and Easy Ways to Measure the Success of Your Social Media Pages

There are many analytic tools out there that can help you analyze and measure your organization’s success on social media. Here are 4 free and easy analytic tools that will help you improve your social media strategy without breaking the bank.

Facebook Insights
If you have a Facebook page, then you have Facebook Insights. When on your page, you should see Page, Inbox, Notifications, Insights, and Publishing Tools across the top. After selecting “Insights,” you’ll have user-friendly access to information about your post reach, fans, page views, post engagement, and more. This data will give you a better understanding of what posts work and which posts don’t, who’s engaging with your posts the most and should be considered your target audience, and what kind of reactions your posts are getting. All in all, you’ll see what you should keep doing on Facebook versus what you shouldn’t with this free tool.

Twitter Analytics
Every Twitter account has access to Twitter Analytics, including personal accounts. Visit and log in to whichever account you would like data for. You’ll then have access to a 28 day overall account summary, top tweets and engagement statistics, follower demographics, and upcoming events you could create a campaign for to increase impressions and engagements. When applicable, Twitter analytics can also help you track conversions. These statistics can be analyzed to see what strategies are working on Twitter, and which are not. From there you can decide how to move forward with your marketing strategy for your organization or even a personal brand.

Websta Instagram Analytics

Websta is a useful analytic tool for Instagram. Websta works for any Instagram account you have a username and password for, as with Twitter Analytics. However, the data is a little more limited on Websta since it is a third-party tool and not directly connected to Instagram. You can still see post engagement and content distribution, just not in as much detail. There aren’t a lot of follower demographics, either. The one major benefit I would say of Websta over the other analytic tools is that it gives you an optimization report for the best time to post on Instagram based on your followers and past engagement patterns.


Keyhole offers measurements for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can search the data for an analytic report of any public page on these platforms for free, or you can pay for more in-depth analytic reports of your pages in particular. On the free version, however, you can choose to track a hashtag, account, keyword, mention, or URL. These reports provide information such as top posts and hashtags by engagement, follower growth, and optimal post time. Unfortunately, to save or download any of the reports specifically, you’ll need to pay for an account. You can see a lot of data on the graphs provided without downloading them, though. You really can get a lot of great analytics from Keyhole without even paying for account, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

How Water is Life Killed #FirstWorldProblems

We use hashtags all the time. Sometimes we use hashtags that are trending, other times we just use something funny that’s relevant to the content of our posts. However, when used creatively, hashtags can serve a much bigger purpose. The nonprofit organization Water is Life showed us how powerful hashtags can really be with its #FirstWorldProblems social media campaign.

Water is Life wanted found #FirstWorldProblems disturbing. People complain about such minuscule, irrelevant things and call them “first world problems.” There are much bigger problems in our world, including access to clean water.

Water is Life changed the conversation around “first world problems” with a simple video that was so good it went viral. They had people from Haiti saying typical “first world” complaints to show how irrelevant these problems really sound. If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch it here:

Water is Life was able to change the conversation around #FirstWorldProblems. Rather than continuing to use the hashtag to complain, people started using it to share Water is Life’s message. As a result, people started to recognize their privilege, and donate to the more important problem.

The campaign started with the simple recognition of a disturbing social media trend. Instead of being angry about it, Water is Life did something about it. The organization excelled in using emotional appeal in the campaign, and certainly sent a very thought-provoking message. Overall, their campaign turned something negative into positive, and started more meaningful conversations about a social issue.

Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking are crucial to successful social media campaigns. Instead of using a trending hashtag, Water is Life killed the negative meaning of one. Forget conformity, becuase it’s bold moves like this that help social media campaigns stand out and start a movement.

Check out Water is Life’s YouTube channel for more campaign videos, including The Last Family Portrait to support the Ethiopia project and 4 Year Olds Bucket List to support the Kenya project.

5 Reasons Why You Should Go On a Service Trip

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Few experiences are more powerful than those that force you to step out of your comfort zone.

When you go on a service trip, you’re integrated into a new community. You serve people you don’t know. You help bridge the gap between social issues.  You learn more about yourself and the world around you. And it’s powerful.

Here are five reasons why everyone should make it a point to go on a service trip outside of their personal community.

1) You’ll Meet Great People
You’re likely to go on a service trip with a group people. These people will be your go-tos for the length of your trip, especially if your destination is somewhere with limited cellular service. Through traveling together, serving together, and living together, you’re bound to make some great friends. You will also meet people who live in the community, whether they’re locals or live in the community as members of your host organization.

2) Learn More About a Social Problem
There’s a service trip out there for everyone. If you’re passionate about education, you could teach English to students in a foreign country to help them qualify for a wider variety of jobs when they get older. If you aspire to be an advocate for refugees, you can travel to a refugee resettlement city to help new Americans find resources and learn English. No matter who you’re serving and for what reasons, just remember that these people don’t need you to come in and “help” them. Your purpose is primarily to provide a resource they otherwise might not have. It’s important to keep this in mind as you learn more about the social problem your service trip is focused on.

3) Experience a New Culture
Before entering a new community and culture, you should educate yourself. It’s important to respect mannerisms and dress codes while you’re serving. By doing so, you’re likely to be accepted by the community, which will allow you to fully experience the culture. This could mean a variety of things, such as trying new foods, walking instead of driving places, wearing different clothes, and living in a different type of space. You might experience some culture shock, but this is good for you. This will really open your eyes to alternative ways of doing the things you’re used to doing every day, just out of habit.

4) You’ll Grow as a Person
In just one service trip, it’s possible to learn a lot more about yourself than you would expect. You’ll find out how well you can think on the fly, your ability to adapt to new situations, and what makes you smile extra hard. You’ll see more value in the little things, and find pieces of your heart you didn’t even know you were missing. Most importantly, you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime. Like anything, a service trip is what you make of it, but if you make it a point to have a great trip, I’m sure you’ll notice some positive changes about yourself. 

5) Explore Your Passion
A service trip is bound to either make you more passionate about a cause than you already were, or help you find a passion you didn’t know you had. Just don’t lose sight of this passion after your service trip is over. 


Nonprofits Want Touchdowns, Too

The Super Bowl is the most watched annual event on television. Over 100 million people tune in to the Super Bowl, which is a dream marketing opportunity for most companies.

A standard 30-second ad in Super Bowl XLI cost an average of $5 million. Big names in the auto, travel, and food and beverage industries could afford this. Many actually used their commercial time to send powerful messages this year, including Budweiser, Audi, and Airrbnb.

But do you know who didn’t get the opportunity to share their powerful messages through a Super Bowl ad this year? Nonprofit organizations.

Unfortunately, most nonprofit organizations can’t afford local commercial advertising, let alone $5 million Super Bowl ads. That’s simply not what nonprofit funds are for.

Looking forward, it would be neat to see more Cause-related marketing ads in the Super Bowl. Cause-related marketing gives for-profit companies the chance to collaborate with nonprofit organizations. For-profits show consumers they care about a cause while nonprofits receive recognition and/or donations. It’s a win-win marketing deal.

There were definitely some powerful ads in this year’s Super Bowl, but a quick spotlight on a nonprofit organization related to the topic of the commercial could have helped them stand out that much more.

If companies spared just a few seconds of their Super Bowl ads to sponsor a nonprofit organization, millions of people would see it. Millions of people would be made aware of a great organization and its mission. Thousands of dollars would be donated. A cause would be significantly helped.

Nonprofit organizations appreciate every penny they receive, and thank every donor and sponsor who gives. They’re passionate about their causes, and just want to inspire others to be passionate, too. And as much as they’d love to share their messages with millions of people on national television, they can’t afford to pay $5 million to do that.

We need cause-related marketing to raise awareness of nonprofit organizations and the causes they stand for. Cause-related marketing could (and should) be the next big thing in future Super Bowl ads. The teams in the Super Bowl fight for what they believe in during the game, so who’s to say for-profit companies can’t do the same for a cause they care about during their ads?