A beacon of hope

Local organizations like Erika’s Lighthouse bring mental health support to students and staff at MCHS.


Krystal Zamudio

Signs that say “You are not alone” hang throughout MCHS, but not many students know what Erika’s Lighthouse is or what sort of support they offer students who need help.

Krystal Zamudio, Staff Writer

After a long day, a student walks into the restroom to hear one of their peers crying in the bathroom stall. They walk into the next stall open and when they close the door they see a paper taped to the door titled Erika’s Lighthouse and on it was slips of paper with positive words, “you are strong,” “you are so loved,” and “there is hope.” They later hear the sound of a paper rip and hear their peer voice “you are special,” and the crying stops.

Erika’s Lighthouse is an organization started by two parents, Ginny and Tom Neuckranz who lost their daughter to suicide after her struggle with depression in 2004 and turned their pain and darkness into a light for those who were struggling with their mental health.

“Erika’s Lighthouse is an organization that helps promote awareness on teen depression/mental health and encourages good mental health.” stated Maura Reid, a prevention wellness coordinator at MCHS.

Mental health can affect the way a person operates and how they would deal with situations in their day to day lives. High school students have to handle not only the little things that come with being a high school student but also having to become adults young as well as multitasking their lives in and out of school.

Along with many other schools including elementary, middle and high schools, MCHS has created a relationship with Erika’s Lighthouse to bring awareness to not only the teens but to the staff’s mental health to make sure everyone has a safe space.

“Every school, across the country, has access to all of our programs and resources for free. Regardless of the size of the school, every educator, administrator and student can access our resources by creating a resource portal account,” stated Katie Conklin, the director of school culture for Erika’s Lighthouse.

While Erika’s Lighthouse does provide a variety of online and offline sources they do not provide a direct service to staff or students but instead encourage the schools to start a Erikas Lighthouses club to bring peers together in order to always have direct sources and relate with similar experiences.

“We do not provide direct service to students but we do encourage students to create an Erika’s Lighthouse Club in their school,” explained Conklin, “ These clubs focus on good mental health and school-wide activities that can help reduce the stigma around mental health challenges.”

Erika’s Lighthouse has a selection of resources to support staff and students bringing them together to overcome the hard days. The girl in the bathroom overcame her hard day with just a reminder she found on a piece of paper on the bathroom stall door.