Green Light Project Aims to Increase Mental Health Awareness in May

Published on May 17, 2024

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today reminded residents that May is Mental Health Awareness Month.


The Mental Health Association of Nebraska (MHA), Lancaster County Prevention Coalition and Tobacco Free Lancaster County teamed up again this year for the Green Light Project NE. This initiative aims to increase awareness around mental health, reduce stigma, and encourage conversations by lighting homes and businesses in Lincoln and Lancaster County in green, displaying yard signs, and sharing resources through social media. 


One in five Americans experiences a mental health condition each year, and almost half of the population will face a diagnosable disorder in their lifetime, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Despite the prevalence of mental health challenges, stigma and shame often prevent people from seeking support. Experts say open conversations about mental health are crucial to creating a more supportive community.  


"We must normalize having conversations about mental health, just as we do with physical health,” said Teri Effle, a Prevention Specialist with Region V and the Lancaster County Prevention Coalition. “By providing equal support, referral, and hope for recovery to those facing mental health challenges as we would for physical illnesses or injuries, we combat the isolation and stigma that often accompany mental health issues.”


Those experiencing mental illness can access services provided by community resources like the MHA. MHA provides peer support, positively transforming relationships to see things from new angles, and support and challenge each other and those in the community in trying new things. Peers can offer guidance in finding community resources that align with a person’s situation and needs.


Managing daily life can be difficult for those experiencing mental illness or chronic stress. They may use unhealthy coping mechanisms like tobacco or other substance use to alleviate their symptoms. While it may seem like these solutions provide relief, they are ineffective treatments that intensify symptoms over time. 


"Nicotine tricks the brain into releasing feel-good chemicals. As nicotine levels drop, cravings begin and withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, depression, and stress intensify. Using nicotine provides temporary relief, and the cycle repeats. This is addiction,” said Sadie Jensen, Health Educator with LLCHD and the Tobacco Free Lancaster County Coalition. “What feels like relief from mental health conditions is truly temporary relief from symptoms caused by nicotine withdrawal. Over time the addiction cycle worsens stress, anxiety, and depression so quitting tobacco is beneficial for physical health and mental well-being.”


The Green Light Project NE is an opportunity to come together as a community to support mental health awareness and encourage others to do the same. You can participate by adding green lights to your home or business, displaying yard signs, or sharing social media posts with the hashtag #GreenLightProjectNE. 


Light bulbs and yard signs in English and Spanish are available at no cost at each of these partner locations while supplies last: 

  • LLCHD, 3131 “O” St., first floor
  • Region V Systems, 1645 “N” St.


For more information on heart-to-heart conversations and other tools and resources, visit


The Nebraska Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW and offer valuable resources and information to support quitting tobacco. 


The MHA has two warmlines available – the Keya Warmline at 402-261-5959 and the Honu Warmline at 402-975-2032. Warmlines are for people not in immediate crisis but seeking support or someone to talk to. Anyone in Nebraska needing support can call and talk to an Intentional Peer Support Specialist 24/7, 365 days a year. To talk with an Intentional Peer Support Specialist in-person or to learn more about programs and services available, call the main office at 402-441-4371 weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.


To learn more about the Green Light Project NE and access mental health resources, please visit

Tagged as: