who we are

who we are

Learn more about how we started and the mission we are fighting for!

The Mental Health Foundation
of West Michigan

Promoting mental health awareness and preventing suicide through education because with knowledge comes the confidence to take action.


The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan is the best source for proactive mental health and suicide prevention education to improve and save lives.


We equip individuals with the knowledge to recognize, understand, accept, and take action when it comes to mental health.

As the go-to source for mental health education it’s our goal to:

> EDUCATE individuals of all ages to recognize the signs of mental illness and have the confidence to take action when helping themselves or others using the be nice. action plan and other life-saving tools.

> EDUCATE communities to support the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of all individuals

> EDUCATE individuals to reduce the shame, stigma, and secrecy surrounding mental illnesses and treatment so less people struggle silently and more people seek help.

> EDUCATE individuals about the warning signs of suicide and equipping them with the tools to act when someone is in crisis.

Logo Tag Orange Black


The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan was founded in 1990 with the mission to create communities that have good mental health by inspiring people to recognize, understand, accept and take action. This language remains the same to this day, but the means in which this is accomplished has transformed overtime, and we’ve accomplished our vision to be the go-to source for mental health awareness and education.

Originally, the Foundation was set up to offer small grants to individuals in the West Michigan community who were struggling and trying to manage persistent mental illnesses. This would include a grant for transportation like the Rapid busing system or money to fund someone’s apartment deposit so they could have stable housing, or any other unmet needs.

Circles for Web 2


In 1998, the parents organization underwent major restructuring and Christy Buck was given the job as the Development Coordinator of the Foundation. This was the first paid position within the organization. Her first task was to increase revenue and participation in the signature event, Shining Through Art Show and Auction. Buck does what she always does and knocked on the doors of family, friends, and Greeks to gather support for the event. Twenty six years later, this event is bigger and better than ever.

This is when the Foundation’s transformation began. Under her leadership, the Foundation grew and stabilized — from a simple “pass through” grant fund for individuals with mental illness to a multi-program, dynamic organization. Today the Foundation has a leadership role in the community when it comes to creating awareness surrounding mental illness and suicide prevention.



In 2005, the Foundation attended its first day of school. Buck and her team developed a classroom program called Live Laugh Love (LLL), which is a multi-media mental health education program, taught by mental health professionals, and aimed to combat the overwhelming statistic of high school students becoming victims of suicide in West Michigan. The curriculum is designed to educate adolescents (8th grade-12th grade) focusing on themes of mental health stigma, effects of bullying, recognizing signs of depression and anxiety, recognizing warning signs of suicide, and understanding how to find appropriate help.



In 2010, the Foundation created the be nice. logo when challenged by the community to do something about a suicide that made headlines throughout the nation. The outreach for the brand was overwhelming and Buck and her team knew a more substantial program had to complement the logo.

IMG 4111


In 2011, the Foundation created and launched the be nice. program. The purpose was to bring awareness and education to the topic of bullying and ultimately combat the devastating effects bullying can have on someone’s mental and emotional health. The be nice. program educates communities using an action plan to help others notice, invite, challenge, and empower themselves and their peers. Your words and actions can have an effect on the way people think, act, and feel - simply put, their mental health.

Screen Shot 2019 11 06 at 10 16 44 AM


In 2015, the be nice. program expanded beyond the classroom and into the workplace. The action plan is transferable among all ages so it is easily adapted to new environments. This fact made an expansion into faith congregations in 2018 a smooth process.

Knowledge confidence action step triangle 3 x 2 5 in


In 2016, the Foundation knew be nice. was ready to take it to the next level. Grand Valley State University was hired to do an Evidence Research Based Study on the effectiveness of the program within schools. The program has proved to create a positive culture change within school buildings and developed students who are more apt to utilize mental health resources if they or someone they know is in need. The results can be found on our homepage.

Contact the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan

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

info@benice.org | 616.389.8601

Download Our 990 Form

Sign Up for the be nice. mailing list

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.