After losing his son to suicide, this Virginia senator knew he needed to act.

Sen. Creigh Deeds of Virginia understands the importance of mental health care better than most.

In the midst of a mental health crisis, he was stabbed by his son Gus 13 times on Nov. 19, 2013, before Gus shot himself and died by suicide.  Deeds survived the attack, dumbfounded by what happened.

The day before the incident, a judge had issued an emergency custody order to place Gus in a mental health facility. But due to a bed shortage, he was released after just six hours.


It was a tragedy — and one that should have been prevented. Gus and his father were close. During Deeds' 2009 run for governor, Gus was a mainstay at Deeds' campaign events. His violent outburst seemed out of character to everyone, including Deeds.

Deeds hugs his son on election night 2009. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

In the wake of his son's death, Deeds set out to fix Virginia's mental health system — and this July, a law he championed went into effect.

Virginia and New York have both enacted legislation to require schools to include mental health-related issues as part of physical education and health courses. Virginia will mandate the development of a mental health curriculum for high schools, while New York will require it to be covered throughout K-12 classes.

In 2014, Deeds introduced a bill to double the maximum amount of time people could be held on emergency custody orders (12 hours, up from six), as well as creating a more streamlined communications process between law enforcement and local community services boards. That bill was signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and we don't devote nearly enough resources to it.

The overwhelming majority of people who struggle with mental health problems won't commit a violent act like Gus Deeds. In fact, people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of violent crime than they are to be the perpetrators.

It's worth noting this because the stereotype of mentally ill people committing horrific acts of violence is prevalent and reinforces stigma surrounding it, putting barriers up to people who might otherwise seek help. (Obviously, as Gus Deeds' situation shows, this isn't to say that no people with mental illness will commit crimes.)

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 teens and young adults live with one or more mental health conditions. Half of those will have developed it by the age of 14.

If we want to do more about this issue, we need people to feel safe and comfortable asking for help. The answer isn't to lock people away, but to try to intervene in conditions that only get worse over time.

Working mental health education into school curricula is one small step toward eliminating stigma.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."