Join the "Karaoke Challenge" for children's mental health!

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If you have a Facebook account or have watched a morning news program in the last few weeks, you have undoubtedly seen the “Ice Bucket Challenge.”  Friends and family are dumping buckets of ice water over their heads in an effort to make a fool of themselves to raise awareness and money for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  You can get wet or donate $100 to the cause.  The challenge has gone viral; neighbors and celebrities alike have participated, and this worthy cause has seen an influx of donations and people are having discussions about this horribly invasive disease.

On August 11th when the news broke that our world had suffered the tragic loss of one of the most brilliant comedians of all time, my heart was heavy. People asked the question, how could a man who made people laugh deep belly laughs battle depression so intense that he would take his own life?  And news story after news story reported what the world already knew, Robin Williams had battled mental illness and addiction his entire life, and even he made no attempt to hide it or stigmatize it.  He spoke publically about his battles with addiction, rehab, and depression.  Even this man who’s life’s work and career had touched so many of our lives through his various roles was not immune to the horrors of mental illness.  And in the darkness of the situation, I felt a little spark of hope that maybe out of this tragedy would come some glimmer of hope.  Maybe through this horrible loss, the world would find the courage to break down the barriers and the stigma of mental illness and have a discussion about how mental illness is under-funded, under-treated, over-stigmatized, over-shadowed by other more “physical” conditions.  Maybe his life and untimely death would open up the door for an educated, informed, fearless discussion about mental health.  My heart was broken at the loss of this iconic genius, but I started thinking about the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.

I wished that there was something akin to the “Ice Bucket Challenge” that would bring awareness and funding to the topic of Mental Health in the way that ALS was gaining awareness.  My 10 year old son and I sat down and thought about how we could challenge our friends and family to something similar.  My 12-year-old daughter has significant mental health challenges and has been hospitalized multiple, multiple times.  She is currently in a residential treatment facility because that is the best and only way to keep her and our family safe.  Our family lives daily on the battlefield of mental health; we have scars and are battle hardened.  My son is a resilient and compassionate sibling, one who even at ten years old instantly understood why and how Robin Williams might consider suicide, what mental illness may have done to his spirit, how it may have touched his family.  My son and I thought about how our family could help other families and we thought up the “Karaoke Challenge”.

Our “Karaoke Challenge” is that people record a video of themselves (and their children if they have some) singing a karaoke version of a song that makes them happy and post it on Facebook.  Then they donate $10 to the Children’s Mental Health Network.  If they don’t want their friends and family to see how horribly they sing, they can donate $100.  Then they have to challenge three of their friends to do the same.  We have also asked that everyone post their videos on the “Where’s Your Ribbon” Facebook site that I have set up for people to show how they are raising awareness for Children’s Mental Health usually wearing the green mental health awareness ribbon.  

My son picked the first song; he and I recorded our karaoke version, challenged six friends (because there were two of us in the video), they have since made their own videos and donations, challenged their friends, etc.  My hope is that this goes viral like the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.  It has put a huge smile on our faces and given us several belly laughs watching our friends attempt karaoke.  I’m not sure, but I think Robin Williams might be proud of this challenge, making people laugh, helping children, and raising money and awareness for mental health. 

About Linette Murphy 
linetteLinette Murphy is the busy working mom of two children.  She has advocated on the front lines for her "complex and interesting" daughter's mental health care needs from emergency rooms, residential facilities, classrooms, inpatient hospital facilities, and even the state house.  She is always looking for ways to help in her community and finds small but meaningful and personal opportunities to improve the lives of children she comes in contact with who are marginalized because of the stigma surrounding mental health in our society. 


  1. Elizabeth Taffel's avatar
    Elizabeth Taffel
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    Lynette you continue to blow me away with pride in your continuous positive crusade to educate and empower people about childhood and adolescent mental illness. You do it with so much love, grace, creativity, and passion. You are an angel and a huge beacon of light for so so many XO
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