Special to The Message
United Way of Southwestern Indiana has announced a $400,000 investment into improving local mental-health-care access for low-income residents. The Mental Health Pathway Grant is the first funding opportunity for mental-health services since UWSWI shifted its focus to address root causes of poverty and help families overcome barriers to economic sufficiency.
Research shows a link between poverty and mental-health challenges. Likewise, there is evidence that mental-health struggles prevent individuals from escaping poverty, creating a vicious cycle. A significant increase in demand for mental-health-care services is creating a strain on local providers, which is further limiting access.
Funding will be invested in the following local nonprofit applicants:
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Evansville will receive $177,840 to increase the hours and capacity of a part-time counselor. In addition, grant funds will help underwrite the financial loss of providing a sliding-scale fee model to low-income clients who otherwise cannot afford mental-health care.
“We are grateful that United Way of Southwestern Indiana recognizes the mental health needs in our community and is investing resources to support this growing need. We are honored that United Way chose to provide resources to Catholic Charities to expand and support our counseling services for those most in need,” said Denise Seibert Townsend, Executive Director of Catholic Charities.
Youth First also is receiving $222,160 to help underwrite the cost of hiring additional social-work staff. The funds will enable Youth First to hire a social worker fluent in Spanish; a substitute school support specialist, who will fill the gap when school social workers are absent; and a clinical supervisor to support the increase in capacity. Youth First identified a gap in service for students whose primary language is Spanish. This grant will help extend service to students who were previously underserved.
UWSWI is striving to develop a best-in-class grant-evaluation process, which includes a thorough evaluation by local experts in the respective pathway, as well as in financial operations. Scott Branam, CAO of Deaconess Cross Pointe said, “With the overwhelming demand we are currently seeing in our nation and community for behavioral health, we are very excited United Way is dedicating funds for this critical service. As a member of the review taskforce, it was impressive to see the time and energy put into the process, as well as the rigor that went into the proposal review and selection of grantees. It’s a shame there is not enough money to fund every application.”
For more information on United Way’s Pathways to Potential, visit unitedwayswi.org/pathway-grants.