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UnitedHealthcare Donates $160,000 to Support Behavioral Health Programs for Delaware Teens
DOVER, Del. (Mar. 16, 2015) —
Three community organizations and a federally qualified health center (FQHC) each received a $40,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare to improve and expand behavioral health programs, address mental and emotional issues, and reduce substance-abuse among Delaware teens.
Darrin Johnson, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Delaware, presented the grants to the following organizations:
- Foundation for a Better Tomorrow, for its Signs of Suicide (S.O.S.) program, which provides training for Delaware middle- and high-school staff on the signs and symptoms of depression, self-injury and suicidality to open a dialogue about mental illness and identify at-risk teens.
- Henrietta Johnson Medical Center (FQHC), for its Healthy Mental Health social and traditional media campaign, in partnership with Delaware Futures 27, Inc., aimed at reducing the stigma associated with behavioral health issues among youth ages 12-21.
- Mental Health Association in Delaware, for its Suicide Prevention Education program that offers training and education for students and the community reaching parents at schools, nonprofits, health care centers, businesses, churches and government agencies.
- One Village Alliance, for its “Raising Kings” and “Girls Can Do Anything” gender-specific programs designed to ameliorate trauma and mental health issues facing at-risk girls and boys.
The donations were given during special check-presentation ceremonies at the Boys and Girls Club in Seaford, Dover Library and Wilmington Police Athletic League (PAL) Center. Guests and community leaders, including Gov. Jack Markell; House Majority Leader Rep. Valerie Longhurst; Rep. Ruth Briggs King; Rep. Trey Paradee; Rep. Michael Barbieri, Ph.D., Chair House Health & Human Development Committee; Rep. J.J. Johnson; Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen; Bob Dunleavy and Harvey Doppelt of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF); Laura Wisler on behalf of Sen. Thomas R. Carper; and Secretary Rita Landgraf, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) attended the events to see first-hand the behavioral health programs’ impact in the local community through program presentations and facility tours.
UnitedHealthcare created the grant program with input from organizations that serve Delaware teens during two community forums in Newark and Dover last year. UnitedHealthcare staff and more than 30 representatives from local nonprofits, faith-based organizations, FQHCs and state agencies discussed sources, barriers and strategies for addressing teen behavioral health issues.
According to a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in early 2012, 11 youths in Kent and Sussex counties took their own lives, more than twice the region’s yearly average; 116 others in those two counties attempted suicide during the same period. According to the 2014 America’s Health Rankings®, Delaware ranked 22nd in “poor mental health,” in which people limited their day-to-day activities due to mental health issues.
“Delaware teens face a growing number of pressures that can lead to serious behavioral health issues, including anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicide,” said Johnson. “It is often difficult for adults to recognize serious mental and emotional issues in teens, and many young people don’t know where to turn for help. That’s why UnitedHealthcare is supporting programs that reach out to teens in a way that is nonjudgmental, promotes empathy and connects with them on their level.”
One of this year’s recipients, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, is an FQHC that provides comprehensive health services, including dental, vision and mental health, in a single location. Compared to the general population, health center patients are disproportionately poor, uninsured or publicly insured.
In the United States, one in 15 people, or about 22 million patients, rely on FQHCs as their health care home, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Medical professionals at FQHCs are often trained to recognize and understand the unique language, cultural and economic barriers that often discourage people from seeking care.
“We thank UnitedHealthcare for supporting the important work that Henrietta Johnson Medical Center and other grant recipients do to promote health education and improve behavioral health services for teens,” said Richard Melke, CEO, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center. “Because of UnitedHealthcare’s generosity, we can continue making our communities healthier.”
Teens’ stress levels are just as high as those of adults, and often higher, according to the latest survey released by the American Psychological Association. Teens report having trouble coping with stress, and nearly a third of survey respondents report feeling depressed or sad as a result of stress.
“Good mental health is critical to a teen's overall health, and we appreciate UnitedHealthcare's investment of resources at the community level,” said Secretary Jennifer Ranji for the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF). “Private-public partnerships like this one are appreciated as there is an ongoing need to offer more prevention, early intervention and education programs to identify at-risk youth sooner and refer them to appropriate services so they can get the help they need.”
UnitedHealthcare’s Community Grants Program helps community-based organizations get the funds they need to continue their important work, and offers free expert guidance to help the organizations make their funding efforts more effective. For more information, visit www.uhccommunitygrants.com.
UnitedHealthcare serves more than 133,000 people in Delaware with a care provider network of 10 hospitals and nearly 2,000 care providers statewide.
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