1 in 5
U.S. Adults experience mental illness each year
1 in 6
U.S. Youths between the age of 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year.
is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
It takes an average of 11 years from the onset of a mental illness before that person will seek treatment. We need to remove the stigma.
Our mission is to remove the stigma of mental illness, provide education on mental illness and suicide prevention. We offer age-appropriate programs to our youth to teach them the importance of being mentally healthy. We work with community centers, schools and hold townhall meetings. We also work with parents to educate them on the signs to look for if their child is experiencing a mental health crisis, how to talk to their children and how important it is to listen to them. We offer resources to those that have lost someone to suicide or who may know someone with a mental illness. We started this organization so we could ensure that the funds we raise are used in our community. 100% of our proceeds go directly to fund local programs and events.
My family and I started this non-profit, Speak Up: Let’s Talk About Mental Health, Inc. in memory of our oldest son, Scott who died by suicide in 2020 after a ten-year struggle with schizophrenia. Scott was an amazing young man, with his whole future ahead of him. He was handsome, athletic, kind, intelligent and loved. Scott fought a long hard battle with mental illness and our entire family was affected by this illness. We never gave up hope that he would find a way to manage the schizophrenia, but we learned quickly that it is very difficult to find quality mental health care in our country. We also experienced how much stigma is associated with mental illness and suicide. Suicide did not kill Scott, mental illness did. We vowed that we would change this in our community, beginning with the youth. There will always be a missing member of our family, and he will never be forgotten.
Our family never imagined that mental illness and suicide would have such an impact on our lives. On August 16, 2022, we lost another family member to mental illness and suicide. Shelly was my sister-in-law and Scott and Brian’s Aunt Shelly. She was a wife and a mother to two beautiful young women. She held a very special place in our hearts; always the life of the party, had an infectious laugh, very creative, she made everyone feel special, and so much more. Every time the family got together, we made great memories, a lot of credit for that goes to Shelly. We will treasure those memories and laughs which will help us get through this tragic loss. I know that she struggled with mental illness for quite a while because we shared many conversations about this topic. Her mental illness finally became too strong for her to fight anymore. I hope she knows how much she was loved, by so many different people. I know that Scott and she are sharing some laughs and practicing their Superman dance. She will be missed more than words can say. We will honor both her and Scott’s lives by making a change in how mental illness is perceived and treated in our society.
Updates on Programs
September 2023: Parent Night at Tarpon Cops and Kids. Partnering with ArtFluent Creatives to have a fun night of painting and time with parents.
July 2023: Scott Morris, local author sharing his book and song. All the campers received a copy of his book and got to strum the guitar.
Our table at the East Lake Fire Station 50th Anniversary Celebration
Program Success Stories
Family Night at Tarpon Cops and Kids: We partnered with Cops and Kids to offer a Family Night that included dinner, painting a canvas that will hang at the Center, painting t-shirts. We ended up with 60+ people attending this event. It was great to see the adults and children interacting doing activities together. Art is a great way for children to express themselves without words and explore a creative side to themselves that they may not know they had.
On November 6th, Dawn had an opportunity to talk with all the students at Curtis Fundamental. What a great experience, the students were very engaged in our conversation about friendship, how to help a friend that may be having a hard time, words and how they can affect someone, kindness, empathy and the importance of good mental health. It is so important to listen to our youth when they talk to us; they want to be heard and know that we care about them. The S.A.V. E. (Students Against Violence Everywhere) Club and the PE Department have chosen Speak Up as their Community Service Project for the year in memory of Haley Fuhs, daughter of their 3rd grade teacher Cathy Fuhs. We are grateful and honored that the school and the students recognize the importance of what we are doing. All donations will go directly to programs in our community to remove the stigma of mental illness and to provide education about mental health and mental illness. We will keep everyone updated on the fundraiser and what specific programs the donations will go to support.
We had a table at East Lake Fire Department's 50th Anniversary Celebration on October 28th. Many families and their children attended, and we passed out activity books, wristbands, gratitude journals and other items.
Our summer program with Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center, The Union Academy in Tarpon Springs and Tarpon Cops n' Kids was a success. We interacted with over 300 youth between K-10 grades, and they responded so well to the activities we brought to them. We had very open discussions about mental wellbeing, making the right decisions, understanding their feelings and so much more. We brought in cardio drumming, yoga, meditation, basic finances, local authors and guest speakers. We are hoping to continue working with the youth during the after-school care program and offering even more activities. Thank you to the Community Centers that gave us the opportunity to offer this program. We can't wait to see how we can expand the program.