The Balanced Mind Parent Network wins $250,000 Contest from Pepsi Refresh

Families with kids struggling with depression and bipolar disorder can look forward to expanded access to support and resources from the The Balanced Mind Parent Network (The Balanced Mind Parent Network) thanks to a finalist position in the December Pepsi Refresh Project $250,000 grant competition.

"We won the Pepsi Refresh Project with support from thousands of people across the country, and we're thrilled with the expanded outreach and services the grant will allow us to provide to families battling not only mental illness, but the stigma and isolation it can bring with it," said Susan Resko, The Balanced Mind Parent Network's executive director.

The Balanced Mind Parent Network will use the Pepsi grant to expand programs to fight youth depression and bipolar disorder, critical and potentially deadly mental illnesses that are not often addressed. In a recent national survey of over 10,000 teens, 11 percent reported being severely impaired by a mood disorder. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and 90 percent of suicide victims have an underlying psychiatric illness.

"We wouldn't have won without the active support of bloggers, high school students, thousands of families and even the Chicago Bears, who posted instructions for voting for The Balanced Mind Parent Network via text message during a November game," said Resko. "For a mental health project to win the grant thanks to a popular vote is a gratifying indication of progress in itself, and we're excited to put the results to work for families across the country."

Throughout the months of November and December, The Balanced Mind Parent Network mobilized parents, grandparents, friends, and families of children suffering from depression or bipolar disorder to vote every day online and via text message. The Balanced Mind Parent Network finished November just out of the running for the grant -- the top two organizations competing win the grants each month -- but moved onto the leader board in early December and remained there throughout the month.

The national competition for funding gives winning causes a financial boost and raises awareness. During The Balanced Mind Parent Network’s two-month campaign for the Pepsi prized, the number of monthly visitors to The Balanced Mind Parent Network’s website doubled, as thousands of new families learned about The Balanced Mind Parent Network through its participation in this campaign.

The Balanced Mind Parent Network was established in 1999 by parents of children with nowhere to turn for resources. At the time, no other mental health organization served the needs of these families. Over the past decade, The Balanced Mind Parent Network has built a community 32,000 people strong and helped thousands more through more than half a million annual website visits to thebalancedmind.org. The Balanced Mind Parent Network provides information and support for parents and teens via support networks, blogs, podcasts, forums, chats, an eHotline, a parent volunteer support network and a vast online library on mood disorders in youth.

Pepsi will review The Balanced Mind Parent Network’s entry in mid January and make disbursements on January 23rd. Pepsi gave away $1.3 million every month during 2010 to projects that can 'change the world.' Grant amounts range from $5000 to $250,000. www.refresheverything.com.

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