It is no surprise that stressors of the past two years – the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, economic fluctuations, and political shifts – have taken a toll on the mental health and wellness of many Americans. The WHO reported a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide as a result of the pandemic. Protecting Youth Mental Health, a publication by the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory, highlights the unique challenges for young people and suggests resources for a healthier, more resilient future.
The degree to which the pandemic has impacted mental health is particularly acute for People of Color. According to a KFF study, 31% of Black adults and 25% of Hispanic adults say that the pandemic has had a major negative impact on their mental health.
As a foundation focused on health and racial equity, our Trustees felt compelled to provide support above and beyond our planned grantmaking for 2022-2023. RMHF Trustees have committed to invest $1MM over two years to support community partners addressing the critical mental health and wellness needs in the Richmond region.
RMHF’s Investment Committee Chair, Trustee Joe Schilling shared, “We’re always looking for ways to align mission and money. Sometimes that’s through impact investing. And sometimes it’s by exceeding payout requirements when community needs are high.”
The demand for mental health services is at an all-time high, but there are not enough trained behavioral health professionals to meet the needs. A January 2022 assessment from the Virginia Healthcare Foundation reported that Virginia ranks 39th in the U.S. for access to mental health care and 41st for availability of its behavioral health workforce.
“Our regional nonprofits are doing an amazing job – despite resource and capacity constraints – to address the critical community needs around behavioral health and wellness,” said Dr. Vanessa Walker Harris, RMHF Trustee and Program & Evaluation Committee Co-Chair, “which is why we wanted to bolster their efforts with additional financial support.”
RMHF commissioned Dr. Jane Isaacs Lowe and Dr. Connie Pechura to engage with community partners and provide recommendations for RMHF support in both the short-and-long term. As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, we are pleased to announce general operating support totaling $500,000 for the following partners:
“We are delighted to continue our partnerships with these organizations,” shared Kendra Jones, RMHF Special Projects Officer & Accountant, “and we look forward to supporting and learning from them in the year ahead.”