Mental Health Scholarships: Where Are They?

As an owner of a scholarship search engine, I have spent a lot of time researching available scholarships over the past 4-5 years. I have found a multitude of college scholarships available to just about everyone. Our scholarship search engine, College Resource Network ( focuses on providing scholarships to minority and disadvantaged students.

Of all the scholarships I have researched, I have found the least amount available to the mentally ill and their families. This has been both alarming and disheartening given the staggering number of mentally ill adults (and children) in the United States.The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in four adults-approximately 61.5 million Americans-experience a mental health disorder in a given year. One in 17‚ąíabout 13.6 million‚ąílive with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent.

Why is it important to provide mentally ill students and their families with scholarship money for college?

People who have been diagnosed with a mental illness whether it is depression, bi-polar disorder, manic depression or schizophrenia have to deal with obstacles many others cannot understand unless they have gone through it themselves. Society labels and rejects people with mental illness and makes it harder for them to function in day-to-day life and become accepted members of society. Many times, it is a daily struggle for survival.

Progress does not follow the same linear fashion as it may for the average college student. It may take longer and many more attempts to complete a college class or a degree program. The value of education and enrichment is invaluable for someone who is facing or has been through mental illness. It can offer a sense of self-esteem and accomplishment which can help one overcome his inner battle or at least contribute to their sense of well-being.

I have seen first-hand what mental illness can do to those who suffer from it on a daily basis and the effects it has on the family members who love them. Both my sister and my mother suffered from mental illness for most of their lives. My mother has been severely depressed for as long as I can remember. My sister Annette was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at the age of 16 and was in and out of mental hospitals until her untimely death at the age of 26.

For her, she struggled immensely with so many of the issues that people with mental illnesses face: medication side effects, stigma and labels, finding work, living independently. She graduated high school later than her peers due to her struggles but she found solace in taking classes at a local community college. It gave her a sense of pride and enrichment although she had to work so much harder than her classmates. By providing scholarships to mentally ill students and their families, it can enrich and empower them as they are often overlooked by the rest of society.

Scholarships for the mentally ill can help ease the financial burden associated with college expenses and provide much-needed support and encouragement. In the end, it ends up benefiting society as a whole by helping to prevent the mentally ill from living on the streets or in jails and falling through the cracks of a faulty mental health system. Scholarships can give opportunities for enrichment and a greater chance of success in not only life but in the personal struggle with self that all persons with mental illness face.

Some of the scholarships I have found for people suffering from mental illness are:

  • Promises Treatment Centers – Offering 3 scholarships ranging from $1000-$6000 to students who have been affected by mental illness.¬†Students of all majors are invited to submit an essay answering this question:
    “How has addiction or mental illness affected you or someone you love?” ¬†Deadline: December 31st NEW!
  • DRK Attorneys Mental Illness Scholarship¬†– Offering a $1000 scholarship to a student currently accepted or enrolled in a U.S. college or university who has a minimum 3.0 GPA and is will to share their story. The goal of this scholarship is to show¬†those with mental health issues¬†that they have options.¬†Support¬†someone who has struggled with mental health issues but has found a way to manage it and overcome those struggles.¬†Shine some light on mental¬†health¬†and the difficulties that its victims manage on a daily basis. ¬†Deadline: August 1st ¬†NEW!
  • Jerry Greenspan Student Voice of Mental Health Award –¬†an annual award honoring a student who is reducing prejudice around mental illness, raising awareness of mental health issues on campus, and encouraging help-seeking among their peers. It was established in 2008 through a contribution made by Carol Ullman and the late Joseph Greenspan, in memory of their son, Jerry Greenspan.¬†This award is designed to¬†encourage dialogue¬†about mental health on campuses,¬†reduce prejudice¬†around emotional disorders, and¬†raise visibility¬†of the outstanding students who are tackling these issues at schools across the country. Award: $3000 cash award,¬†Recognition on The Jed Foundation‚Äôs website, a trip to New York to attend JED‚Äôs Annual Gala. ¬†NEW!
  • JC Runyon Foundation Moving Forward Scholarship – Open to undergraduate students with behavioral health disorders including but not limited to depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, emotional and PTSD.
  • Paradigm Malibu $1000 Annual Depression Treatment Education Scholarship – Open to any student currently enrolled in an accredited college.
  • Buckfire & Buckfire P.C., Disability Scholarship – For those with mental or psychiatric disorders including depression but also applicable to people with other disabilities or medical conditions.
  • Baer¬†Reintegration Scholarship – For those affected by schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
  • The Charles A. Olayinka Scholarhip – For those affected by bipolar disorder.
  • Bi-Polar Lives Scholarship – For those affected by bipolar disorder. Scholarships are currently suspended but check their website for upcoming opportunities:

Tips on finding additional scholarships:

  • Check with your local mental health organizations which may provide grants or scholarships for college.
    Check memorial scholarships for mental illness, many times it is the families who will start a scholarship fund to benefit those with a mental illness
  • Check disabled scholarships. Sometimes organizations may offer scholarships to individuals with a mental or physical disadvantage. Contact the sponsoring organization and check with them about eligibility requirements.
  • ¬†Search scholarship search engines such as¬†or

Hopefully, there will be many more scholarship opportunities in the future to bring both awareness and support to mentally ill students and their families.
If you or a loved one are facing a mental illness, you are not alone. Seek support from a mental health organization such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness: Helpline: (800) 950-6264< Helpful links to help find health care providers and treatment:

For a comprehensive list of mental health associations and resources, visit

Additional Community Resources:

Reach Out РAn excellent resource with fact sheets written on topics such as depression, anxiety, family relationships, self-harm, substance and alcohol abuse, romance, LGBTQ issues, loss and grief, suicide and eating issues. Reachout fact sheets are written by young people for young people and are edited by mental health professionals. There are also real stories of people coping with difficult and painful experiences. Learn how to reach out for help or help someone you love by visiting the Get Help section. You can also visit the forum section of the website. Like the rest of, the forums are a safe, anonymous online space where teens and young adults can go for immediate support and information free of judgment. 

The Trevor Project Program and Resources –¬†The Trevor Project offers accredited life-saving, life-affirming programs and services to LGBTQ youth that create safe, accepting and inclusive environments over the phone, online and through text. РAn excellent guide and resource for a variety of mental health issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional health, caregiving resources and support, depression, suicide prevention, grief and loss, stress, addictions, family and relationship issues, teen issues and more.

Love Our Children U.S.A. РProvides an excellent list of emergency toll-free hotlines. They are mostly focused on children and teens but there are also hotlines for adults. There are organizations and help hotlines for those suffering from child abuse, drug abuse, rape, alcohol addiction, eating disorders, domestic violence, dating violence, cutting and self-mutilation.

Additional Resources 

Supporting College and University Students with Invisible Disabilities: A Guide for Faculty and Staff¬†Working with Students with Autism, AD/HD, ‚ĶDisorders, Anxiety, and Mental Illness by Christy Oslund – “Students with invisible disabilities are often academically talented but struggle with certain aspects of higher education such as keeping track of appointments or maintaining concentration in lecture halls. By providing detailed information on a range of disabilities including autism, AD/HD, dyslexia, OCD, and affective disorders, this book facilitates a better understanding of the unique needs of these students and what their strengths and limitations may be.” ¬†Recommended reading material for university professors, faculty, counsellors or anyone wanting an in-depth guide book on mental illness. On¬†¬†¬†Also, available on Kindle.

Jed Foundation Protecting Your Child’s Mental Health: What Can Parents Do?  Р contains some helpful advice and mental health resources for parents with college-age students. Outlines ways parents can communicate with their son or daughter and offer support.

College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do About It by Richard Kadison – “Written for parents, students, college counselors, and administrators,¬†College of the Overwhelmed¬†is a landmark book that explores the stressors that cause so many college students to suffer psychological problems. The book is filled with insights and stories about the current mental health crisis on our nation’s campuses and offers:

  • A hands-on guide for helping students overcome stress and succeed in a college environment.
  • An examination of the effects of such commonplace stress factors such as: identity development, relationships, sexuality, roommate problems, academic pressures, extracurricular demands, parental expectations, and racial and cultural differences that affect self-worth.
  • Personal stories of students under stress and describes how they overcame a variety of problems.
  • The warning signs and symptoms of common problems, including depression, sleep disorders, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, impulsive behaviors, and suicide.” ¬†Available on
  • Roberta- Bobbi- Mercer

    Thank you, I am 59 and have BP disorder. I am taking care of my husband that is on hospice and have been homeboynd for the better part of a year and a half. This past week I had the opportunity to be on the campus of FSCJ in Jacksinville, Fl.
    I decided I can’t work but I can try to advance myself with a better education so that maybe someday I can be somebody that can make a difference.

  • Carla Abraham

    Dear Roberta,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I would like
    to congratulate you on overcoming your obstacles in life and pursuing
    your dream of going back to school. You are an inspiration!

    Best Wishes,

  • Heather

    Thank you so much for the info. I’m schizoaffective and have been struggling with this for years. I feel so much better now that I reapplied for college and hope to get at least one scholarship to hopefully decrease the school loans a little. You are awesome.

  • Carla Abraham

    Hello Heather,
    Thank you so much for your comment and for visiting our blog. That is awesome that you are reapplying for college again. The more scholarships you apply for, the better your chances of receiving an award. I wish you all the best for your education and future.

    Best Wishes,

  • sandra

    how horrible. You’d think there be many more. What about depression? No scholarship for that? What? people can’t go to college if depressed? I went on to get a BS in business and the entire time I was freaking depressed since I lost my job in 2007 (I had transferred from a JC to a University in 2006). So I looked (I felt) really stupid compared to my classmates. They all had a job and it was a school for working adults. But when I transferred over, I WAS working. This is so sad how society says “You can’t do it” to people with mental illness. I did it and I have an MBA now that I’m not using (not due to disablity, just due to the economy).

  • Carla Abraham

    Hi Sandra,
    Thank you so much for your reply. First of all, I would like to say congratulations on your accomplishments. I appreciate you sharing your experience. Yes, it is very disheartening that there are so few scholarships for people with mental illness. It doesn’t mean that people who suffer from depression or another mental illness can’t find scholarships. It just means that they will have to follow other avenues and locate alternate resources for funding. What it says is it that society has not recognized the full value that scholarships can have for those with mental illness. I hope this changes in the near future. Good luck to you in your endeavors and thank you again for sharing with us!

    Warm Regards,

  • Katy

    I suffer from depression and have been disheartened by the lack of scholarships for depressed people. It would seem to me that attending school or going back to school would be a great help from those who suffer from metal and emotional disorders. I already have a bachelor’s, but have decided to get another in the field that I am interested in as a career and think will help get me out of a deep funk that I’ve been in since health issues turned my life upside down soon after I first graduated from college. I hope to find some help so that my goal will be attainable. I think pursing this degree will help greatly with my depression in many ways, probably the greatest of which is to have a goal and hope for my own future.

    As a side note, I checked out the Lilly Reintegration Scholarship (which I just missed the deadline for), now includes people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), so at least that’s one resource for people with more general depression.

  • Debbi Yates

    Thank you for helping me find a place to start. My daughter suffers from Bipolar, depression, severe anxiety and social anxiety and although she always excelled in school and that became an escape for her, when she started going through puberty, her social anxiety shot through the roof. She spent the next 3 years home bound.I home schooled her for those 3 years and worked with numerous therapists and specialists. This past August she completed her HiSet tests and is now looking at college. She is an amazing artist and wants to go to school for video game design and animation. After being a single mom for most of her life that dealt with ALL the medical expenses alone (insurance, appointments, treatments, hospital stays, meds etc) I don’t have much left for college. She has big dreams and is finally in place where she is ready to move forward in life. She has worked really hard to get to where she is and has overcome more obstacles in her short 17 years than most people have to deal with in a life time and I hate that finances might be the reason she can’t chase her dream. I am going to keep looking and applying for everything, if anyone finds anything else, please let me know! Thanks so much!

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  • Holly

    You’re daughter sounds absolutely wonderful. I have dealt with anxiety and major depression and they are no easy obstacles to overcome. She reminds me a lot of myself, I’ve always wanted to go to college for video game design. You are an amazing mother for being so supportive of her, always encourage her to follow her dreams and hopefully one day I can play one of her games ūüôā

  • Joan

    My son died this January 2015 by suicide his daughter is in college out out of state are there grants to help her to get some free money or to help her mother to ease there burden of loans

  • Emily Smith – Blog About Depression,Anxiety,bipolar disorder. Daily Tips And Professional Advices Everything Is FREE !

  • Merryweather Perse

    Great article – I am British and based in the UK and cannot find anything as helpful as this or your site here in the UK. I was hoping that you may know of funding for University Masters and PhD support in the UK? Many thanks.

  • Traci Guinee

    Hi Debbi, I hope you and your daughter have found some resources to help her keep moving forward! Isn’t it amazing when our kids hit a point where suddenly they can take a next step? I am also curious because my daughter has a similar story to yours (severe anxiety, depression, social anxiety; severe escalation at puberty) She loves school, and will usually start a school year; but it isn’t long before she has to go back on homebound (she is about to miss her prom because she has been trying for a month to get to a place where she can handle going to school, but she’s just not there at this time).She has, however gone from the mindset that she wanted to drop out and maybe get a G.E.D. to planning for college. If you have found any financial resources that you would be willing to share, we would so appreciate it. She has just turned 17 and will graduate in 2017.

  • Nairobi Natalie Lopez

    what can you do if you suffer from bipolar disorder and adhd but do not have the money to afford any of the treatments? They aren’t sending my doctor anymore samples (thats how he used to help me out). I can’t afford health insurance and I can’t afford my medications. Juggling my first year in college, two jobs, and a hectic schedule is really drowning me right now. Im trying so hard to succeed rather than go down the path of my older brother who is bipolar as well. It gets really hard. I am not interested in recreational drugs. I’d just like to be in peace honestly. I don’t know how I got here, I guess I was looking for scholarships but I hope someone has some kind of information that may help me. Thank you.

  • Marshmallo

    Thank you so much! I am on disability for a mental disorder and am applying to go back to school. I have a high GPA and love school. I want to believe I can work in a field if I just get the education I need. I have a plan on what I want to do and how I can work. Thank you for this article and your resources. I can use all the help I can get!

  • Martin

    You are so welcome. I really hope this helped you. Congratulations and best of luck to you!!

  • T Hal

    The paradox of mental health is that on the one hand public service announcements encouraging people to get help abound while on the other hand it is often both disheartening just trying to get help (not that it’s practically available) AND too expensive (or too limited in scope, even by the publications of the standards of seasoned professionals working in the field). Also, notice that while mental health issues are already among the most significant contributors to disability, pay for mental health professionals is abysmal (given their qualifications and the demand for their services) AND while there are quite a few fully funded art degree programs in the US (no slight meant to art–it’s very valuable), there are virtually no fully funded mental health counseling programs. Instead, future counselors are expected to go into debt for graduate degrees that lead to high-stress positions that pay near-poverty wages. It’s a reasonable conclusion to draw from all this that while it serves some purpose for communities to pay lip service to mental health awareness (perhaps it alleviates a sense of responsibility–“We’re doing something…”), decision-makers, including those holding the purse strings, don’t really care about mental health–or those suffering from mental health issues. If they did, they’d put their money where their mouths are.

  • T Hal

    I think it’s a more critical priority to provide funding for people interested in working in mental health.

  • Mick Johnson

    I wish I would have thought about this earlier, UNM acts like they are allergic to scholarships. I know I could use something, there’s always a class, always, where the professor has a you know what for something. Like this econ jerk, hes like oh no I couldn’t possibly give you points for that assignment. It like charting information somehow is the only way to express the idea that the information encapsulates. Yes mathematics is a highly effective and accurate language for expressing ideas about the physical plane of reality; just look at physics- which is THE successful science because of its use of mathematics. But because we can use mathematics doesn’t mean we enter some sort of absolute netherworld, besides one of the principles of mathematics is that you seek the simplest terms. Then there’s all of the meaningless designations, it drives me absolutely crazy. I’m usually amped up by week 4 or 5. People can visually identify a wheelchair, but they just don’t understand “flying” thoughts, endless re-curve and what its like to be stuck in a class full of people who are standing still in a different millennium. I love details and pulling everything out from under the hood to examine it, but I just can’t stand the eyedropper some of these clowns (well meaning and educated people mind you, but clowns none the less) use to dispense the actual information. I also cant stand that expectant look they get when they come at you with the “theory”. OMG. I about want to freak out. I’m not religious or anything but about three seconds of sober thought tells you that fur naturally breaks up the silhouette of an animal’s form, yet in terms of evolution, oh no, we gave up an advantage like natural cammo as part of a series of advantages. Oh sure, it was easy to keep cool running across the Savannah chasing meat one couldnt digest. Ever see a chimp run? They haul ass, and I mean that both scientifically and respectfully, they do, they just cruise on four legs, AND they climb very, very well. Yet id you are in the evolution and human emergence class you cant challenge the theory of evolution. I would have gotten more respect and a polite condescending tone if I would have whipped out a bible and started in with the sweet baby jesus’. Sorry, I don’t mean to, you know, be crazy, but man it just bugs the you know what to have these institutional rejects give me a hard time when it would be just as easy to hassle one of the “normal” people who don’t say a word in discussions and then cut and paste all their work. They get passed because they are “disadvantaged” so why do they have to act like I’m some kind of “real student” who needs these “real standards”. Whatever. Nice article Carla (apologies if you prefer Ms. Abraham) I’ll definitely take the time to run some of these down. ūüôā

  • Mick Johnson

    Wait! Are you referring to THE Alan Croft?

  • Corinne Colbert

    In addition to help for kids with mental/behavioral disorders, I wish there were scholarships for children *affected* by mental illness. My son is a great student, but he has been unable to participate in extracurricular activities because of my and his brother’s illnesses. Merit scholarships require a bunch of community and school activities, so even with his GPA and high test scores he’s at a disadvantage against kids from “normal” families. (As if I need *more* guilt over the way our issues have affected his childhood!)

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