Founded by partner Thomas H. Neuckranz and his wife, Ginny, Erika’s Lighthouse raises awareness about adolescent depression and mental health for young people through a variety of programs. It is comprised of an adult board of directors of concerned parents, mental health professionals and educators, and an active Teen Club. Together they strive to break the stigma and educate communities about mental health issues through various programs directed toward schools, teachers, parents, the kids themselves and most recently physicians and other health professionals.
At the core of its mission is the Red Flags Program, a Comprehensive Adolescent Depression Awareness Program for middle school students. The center of the curriculum is a 45-minute video called "Claire's Story" about 13-year-old Claire, her struggle with depression and how she got well. The material is designed to help students understand mental illness as a treatable brain disorder and to recognize the warning signs. The Teen Board/Club and Teen Panel are active in fighting the stigma of depression by providing outreach and educational presentations to students, teachers, and mental health staff. Erika’s Lighthouse also offers a Parent Handbook on Childhood and Adolescent Depression, written by and for parents, subtitled “How to Get Help and Things you Might Want to Know.”
Every spring, the organization hosts and annual walkathon. Designed to be both fun and informative, the 2.5-mile walk features informational signs featuring facts and figures and insights created by its Teen Club to enlighten the walkers and provide thought-starters for conversations.
The February 2012 edition of Chicago Lawyer contains an article entitled "Lawyers take on missions close to home" in which Erika's Lighthouse is featured. Click here to see a copy of the article.