Welcome to the DAS Foundation

“Awareness, Assistance, Acceptance” of Mental Health & Stigma Issues

Depressed Teenaged BoyMission Statement:

To increase awareness of mental health issues and the societal stigma against seeking effective professional help through awareness events, community training, and service projects, with the goal of education and advocation to help eliminate suicide from all our lives.



Virtually every human being over the age of 18 has experienced the loss of a family member or friend through some self-destructive means. The causes vary, from negative peer pressure to inability to deal with stress, from severe depression to chemical imbalances, to crisis piled on top of some major life event or stress, and sometimes a less than obvious mental illness, each of which are often ignored or over looked. Often, it’s some build up and a combination of these things are linked with suicide. Historically, public awareness and discussion of these topics has been taboo. Particularly how the living family & friends, of the one who committed suicide, will be effected or are reacting to this unexpected death. They replay the things said, and not said… things done, and not done. They question, wonder, suspect, blame, and search for answers. Often, life’s stress has been stuffed in a closet or backroom . . . quieted, silenced, and ignored, because they don’t know who they can really talk with, who they can trust, who won’t further their self-blame, or personal questions. Some thought, “They’ll work through it.” or “They’ll out grow it,” leaving those suffering to try to deal with their illness, depression, stresses, and questions all on their own, often without awareness that they aren’t the only ones with that problem. They aren’t the first, sadly won’t be the last, and that their problem can really be positively changed… and there really is help out there.

Our Purpose

Mental Health Awareness & Suicide Prevention: To educate everyone about the struggles and challenges associated with illnesses of the mind and brain that cause behavioral symptoms, the stigma against seeking help, and the sometimes devastating consequences of these untreated or misdiagnosed illnesses.

We are building a ‘hub’, where both those suffering from mental illness and depression can share their story and those suffering from the loss of a loved one can share their personal stories. Our educational training program, Mental Health Awareness, can help individuals – parents, teachers, and employers – get those that need a helping hand a safe and effective way to climb out of the hole they’ve found themselves in. We do this by sponsoring regional awareness events and community intervention and awareness programs, like Mental Health First Aid, as well as by creating and maintaining this Web site and other tools that can help others.

logo-smallThe Bending Tree Logo Meaning

From the Utes of the West to the Cherokee of the East, Tribal Nations used the Bending Tree to mark a path to ensure safe travel for those who follow. The Damon and Stella Foundation for Mental Health is well aware of the perilous journey toward well-being. Our purpose is to provide guideposts to those seeking a safe path out of the wilderness of their own mind and heart, pointing the safe way toward mental health Awareness, Assistance, and Acceptance.

Core Principles

check-1We Believe in a world where people understand mental illness, not fear it, and encourage those who suffer, not discriminate against them or stigmatize their illness. We want to help create a world where anyone can easily find affordable access to safe and effective help for themselves, a loved one, fellow student, co-worker, or other human being in need.

check-1We Know that we can make a difference, particularly with YOUR HELP, through the production and presentation of awareness/education campaigns, and by holding community intervention and awareness programs, like Mental Health First Aid. Akin to CPR training for normal people that interact with others in the general public, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is training that helps individuals who don’t have clinical training learn to assist someone potentially experiencing a mental health crisis.

check-1We Act by coordinating the generosity of donors with the skills of professionals, and the influence of celebrities donating their time and interaction, for the creation of emotionally moving and poignant campaigns, educational events, and programs.

The Need

10-24According to the Center for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics, 26.2% of adults are diagnosed with mental diseases. This translates to over 57 million Americans, along with their families, living under an incredible daily burden. Those who go undiagnosed represent millions more. In 2013, 93% of those committing suicide in the state of Tennessee were ‘non-hispanic white males’ according to the states statistic gathering efforts; and they reported a rise in suicides by young people, ages 10-24. This is something WE THE PEOPLE can help reduce, merely by learning the signs, and getting involved!

It is very difficult to quantify attempted suicides. Attempts can be mistaken as accidents by medical professionals and families or can go completely unreported. This makes determining an exact number impossible. However, the Center for Suicidology reports that, for each completed suicide, there are anywhere from 8 to 25 attempts.

24-44With over 35,000 completed suicides in the United States each year, and with 250,000 to 790,000 estimated attempts, our aim is to draw attention to this crisis through aggressive communication, compassion, and celebrity-driven campaigns.

These numbers are unacceptable, doing nothing is not an option that will help this growing problem.

Founded in 2006 by family survivors of suicide, The Damon and Stella Foundation for Mental Health is an alliance of artists, health care professionals, and concerned contributors dedicated to expanding our cultural awareness of mental disease and the stigma that surrounds it.

We Can Do It . . . with Your Help

Our aim is to create greater awareness of the issues surrounding mental illness through a variety of endeavors, particularly education and training but, also, community awareness through assorted meetings, teaching efforts, and events.

WHO should sign up for Mental Health First Aide classes?

  • Primary care professionals that want to make a bigger difference
  • School personnel, teachers, coaches, nurses, cafeteria staff
  • First-responders, fire, police, FEMA, EMT’s, and volunteers.
  • Employers, and just like CPR classes, EVERY PERSON interacting with the general public.
  • Public officials, policymakers, and all those assisting or working with the general public.
  • Even public transportation providers – bus drivers, taxi drivers, and meter readers.
  • Fast Food Workers, wait staff, cashiers, and others that generally come into contact with the public.
  • Parents… for the safety of their own children, and their child’s friends.

We plan to help create awareness and a safe way for people to talk, share, learn, and build awareness so that we can aid in dispelling the stigma and stimulate a public discussion. Our goal is to help SAVE LIVES by discussing the prevalence of depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental diseases, showing how those things affect suicide rates. We want to help people in need get the help necessary so that the suicide of loved ones can be drastically reduced, if not eliminated.

Awareness . . . is key,

Assistance . . . is necessary,

Acceptance . . . that the problem is real and affects far too many is necessary to effectively start a positive change.

Doing nothing doesn’t eliminate the problem, reduce the pain and suffering, or solve the problem. The Damon and Stella Foundation for Mental Health, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible. Please consider taking some action NOW. You can start by clicking the button below. Every little bit helps!

Donate to the Cause

You Can Really Help Others by Donating Now

All we do is in honor of Damon Ivey & Stella Barrett and all the other people who have died before their time through suicide.

Please, if you or a loved one have ever thought suicide or death was ‘the answer’, first, understand that you are WRONG. There are answers and help out there! Second, if the problem exists now, please see our “HELP” section immediately. Third, if you can, please consider donating to the cause and help us help others!

Executive Offices
2815-D Rennoc Road NE
Knoxville, Tennessee 37918


Home — 13 Comments

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  2. This article and many other on your site are very interesting. You should show your content to wider audience. There is a big chance to go viral.

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  3. You don’t have to waste time – your call to action and desire to help others is awesome. THANK YOU… I’m really digging this new site!

  4. Carly this is great & I’m so proud of all you have accomplished. This is a wonderful site & full of very helpful information.

    • Thank you Deb! We have worked very hard to make a difference in the hopes our site will provide information that supports others as they unravel these complicated emotional subjects.

  5. This is a great website and very much needed.

    My step daughters 17 year old daughter committed suicide and it took my step daughter several years for her to stop telling telling people that the girl had died of a blood disease.

    Sad, really sad situation. Mother, mothers mothers, and mothers, grandmother all hated men and blamed the men they married and destroyed as the reason for all their problems, I lived with my late husband for 28 years and saw what the mother and her game playing did to both their daughter and my husband, and the way it affected my life.

    My husband saw his daughter 3 times after the age of 10, and his granddaughter a total of 2 times. He died in 2001 of lymphoma and never knew his granddaughter took her own life. She was only 2 the last time he saw her. Her young life was steeped in hate, bitterness and lies. The most common of emotions of her maternal great grandmother, grandmother, and mother. They all hated men with such virulence it was palpable [you could literally feel & taste it].

    I could write a book, and may well do so, about living with that kind of hate swirling in and out, and all around your daily life. It’s evil, and so destructive.

  6. I’m really glad I found this site. A lot of good information. I lost a friend to suicide a few months ago. It’s been difficult to understand why, and what I could have done differently. It’s good to know I’m not the only one wondering those things, struggling to deal with something I can’t change.

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