The Purple Hydrangea Project is a student-run 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for mental health awareness in children and teens. In our fight to eliminate the stigma around mental health, we hope to move the community towards an environment of understanding in which everyone can feel safe in reaching out for help and speaking about their mental health struggles without fear of being judged, ignored, or shunned.
What We Do
We plan to fulfill our mission by coordinating and presenting mental health awareness assemblies in elementary, middle, and high schools, making care packages for youth in psychiatric wards, holding holiday toy drives for children that have been diagnosed as emotionally disturbed, publishing a crowd-sourced book of stories of recovery from people all over the country, facilitating a pen pal program for youth all around the world to establish personal connections with one another, enacting a mural in honor of suicide victims, running a website on which we share resources, knowledge, and professional and personal advice on dealing with mental health struggles, and more.
The Purple Hydrangea Project started as a dream that high school student Madeleine Salem had - a dream to gather kids and teens who had endured mental health struggles into a united front against the mental health stigma. But after seeing more and more people - loved ones and strangers alike, some as young as 10 years old - suffer from these mental health struggles and being unable to speak out about it for fear of being judged, ignored, or shunned ... she decided to try and make that dream a reality.
Our mission is all about shining a spotlight on the unique struggles that young kids and teens face - being so young and without life experience as a foundation for healthy coping mechanisms - with their respective mental illnesses. So, we plan to undergo multiple projects dedicated to helping these kids with various mental health issues. These include: making care packages for kids and teens in psychiatric wards, coordinating toy and clothing drives for kids diagnosed as emotionally disturbed, enacting a mural in honor of suicide victims, compiling all the stories of both those we've encountered and from public submissions, into the first volume of our self-published crowd-sourced book, and much, much more.
There is a stigma against mental health that is still prevalent to this day. It prevents children and teens from learning how to healthily cope with mental health issues and mental illnesses, how to help their peers in need, and how to reach out for help without feeling shame or fear. The Purple Hydrangea Project is determined to give the youth struggling with mental health issues a voice, show them that recovery is possible and things really do get better, and convey the message that they are never alone.
"I wholeheartedly believe that it takes an immeasurable amount of strength to stay kind in a world that has not been kind to you. I think that the strength that one gains from trauma and struggle doesn't come from the experience alone; the strength is gained by using the pain one went through and transforming it into healing. And that's what I'm trying really, really, really hard to do. That's partly why I started the Purple Hydrangea Project - I wanted to take my anger and bitterness at the mental health stigma and channel it into something bigger than myself in the hopes of making some kind of difference. I knew that it was a shot in the dark to take on such a huge project about something that is still so controversial, but who has ever made a difference in the world that played it safe?" - Madeleine Salem, the Purple Hydrangea Project President and Founder
Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13.3%.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness