be nice.

mental health foundation of west michigan

youthful male with a nice smile

an action plan for mental health

be nice.
an upstream mental health and suicide prevention program with an action plan that works

be nice. is a program with a four-step action plan that's proven to save lives. Under the leadership of Executive Director Christy Buck, the Foundation enlisted Grand Valley State University researchers to conduct an evidence-based study to prove the effectiveness of the program. Results concluded the be nice. program creates a positive culture, increases mental health referrals, and increases behaviors that prevent suicide.

When used effectively, the be nice. action plan - to notice, invite, challenge, and empower - encourages individuals to challenge themselves and others to seek appropriate professional help when they notice mental health changes or concerns. This program equips individuals in schools, businesses, faith institutions, and communities with the knowledge and confidence to take action when it comes to mental health and suicide prevention.

read the results

be nice. programming gives individuals the confidence to intervene with mental health concerns and stand up to mean behavior.

1 in 5 People Affected

Mental illnesses affect 1 in 5 people or 20% of the population.

2nd Leading Cause

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds, and the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

77% of suicides

are completed by white, middle-aged males.

Undiagnosed, untreated or inadequately treated mental health conditions can affect a student’s ability to learn, grow, and develop.


is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

You can make a difference today.

Learn each step of the be nice. action plan below!



notice what is right and good about someone so you can notice when something is different about the way that person is thinking, acting, or feeling- their mental health!

Below are signs and symptoms of a mental illness like depression or anxiety. A change in someone’s behavior, physical appearance, or psyche lasting two weeks or longer could be a developing mental health concern.


  • Quitting favorite sport/hobby
  • Avoiding social interaction
  • Sudden/unlikely drug or alcohol use
  • Cry frequently for no reason
  • Neglect responsibilities, loss of motivation
  • Can’t sleep or sleep constantly


  • Lack of hygiene, personal appearance
  • Fatigue, lack of energy
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Headaches
  • Unexplained aches or pains


  • Acting out, aggressive, quick to anger
  • Heightened sadness, guilt, indecisiveness
  • Lack of emotional responsiveness
  • Frequent self-criticism
  • Hopelessness, loneliness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide



The second step of the be nice. action plan involves taking a risk and reaching out. If you notice changes lasting two weeks or longer, it’s time to invite yourself to check in with that person or open up to someone you trust if you are personally struggling.

Eight out of ten people considering suicide give some sign of their intentions.

invitation to connect:

  • social connection improves mental, physical, and emotional well being.
  • individuals who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression along with higher self esteem and greater empathy for others.
  • a sense of belonging is a human need. Illnesses like depression can be a lonely journey and feelings of prolonged isolation can have detrimental effects to our health - mental and physical. Feeling like you belong is an important aspect in seeing your value in life and coping with painful emotions or situations.

invitation for change:

  • invite yourself to make a change in your school, workplace, or community to create a healthier environment by implementing mental health education and awareness.

invitation for conversation:

  • Invite yourself to tell the individual you are concerned using an “I” statement. “Can we talk? I’ve noticed you haven’t been yourself lately, and I’m really worried about you.”
  • invite yourself to listen with empathy and understanding. Be patient - it could be the first time this person is opening up about their mental health.



The challenge step takes on a number of roles; challenge the stigma surrounding mental illness and treatment, challenge yourself or an individual to get help, and challenge yourself to ask the tough questions.

More than 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental health condition.

challenge stigma

  • be open when talking about mental health! Don’t let stigma create self doubt and shame.
  • be conscious of language. Don’t use mental illness as an adjective…”He’s so bipolar.”
  • be supportive! Show compassion for individuals with mental illness.
  • be aware. Educate yourself with the basics of mental health and complete the be nice. Pledge. Knowledge creates the confidence to take action!

Signs someone is in crisis

  • Feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless
  • social isolation
  • quitting something they previously loved like a sport or hobby
  • increased irritability or rage
  • giving away their belongings or saying goodbyes

Getting help

  • If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, call 9-1-1. A trained professional will be dispatched to help come up with a plan to keep you alive.
  • If you need to talk to someone about how you’re thinking, acting, or feeling call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). They are available 24/7 and the call is anonymous. They are trained listeners ready to lend an ear. There is always someone willing to help.



empower yourself and others with the knowledge that YOU can have an effect on how a person thinks, acts, and feels. be empowered with the knowledge that there are resources to help and there is always hope.

Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and they are isolated from others.

Protective Factors

  • Identifying at least one trusted person in your life
  • Access to and utilizing services
  • Being involved in activities and groups at or outside of school or work
  • Supportive family members, friends, and coworkers
  • Having self-awareness
  • Positive role models, outlook on life, and/or attitude
  • Faith

Coping with depression or anxiety

  • be active! There are plenty of ways to exercise without hitting the weights or running a marathon. Find something you enjoy and stick to it!
  • be healthy. Your nutrition plays a major role in your overall health - mental and physical. Balanced meals and staying hydrated fuel your body and mind in a positive way.
  • sleep matters! You need to be recharged every day, and without sleep, your body and mind will eventually shut down. Make 8-10 hours a night a priority for maintaining good health.
  • be safe. Avoid harmful substances and realize that drugs or alcohol are not healthy ways to cope with stress. They may feel good in the moment, but they can be dangerous in the long run.

We are honored to be named a 2023 Best and Brightest Winner in Wellness. This program honors companies that promote employee well-being and worksite health and wellness.

4 Simple Steps to Recognize Depression and Prevent SuicidePink ball92%are confident with the knowledge to take action in their daily lives and in a crisis situation after this book.

take the pledge to be nice.TM

Knowledge creates the confidence to take action when it comes to mental health!

Join the 57,362 individuals who have taken the pledge to support mental health and suicide prevention in their community.

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if you are in crisis and need immediate help call 988 or text "nice" to 741741


Contact the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan

160 68th St. SW Suite 120
Grand Rapids, MI 49548 | 616.389.8601

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