Rhode Island Foundation announces $3.7 million in grants to help Rhode Islanders cope with the behavioral health challenges of the COVID-19 crisis
“The health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have created significant behavioral health challenges for too many in our community. We hope these grants can help address the increases in depression, isolation, suicide and substance abuse that we are seeing.”
The Rhode Island Foundation today announced $3.7 million in grants to help Rhode Islanders cope with the behavioral health challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. These grants are the first from the COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund at the Foundation
More than three dozen organizations, including the Samaritans of Rhode Island, Bradley Hospital and Newport Mental Health, will receive funding from the Foundation’s new COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund. (The full list of awardees and a brief description of what each grant will support is posted here.)
“The health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have created significant behavioral health challenges for too many in our community,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation. “We hope that these grants can help provide support to address the increases in depression, isolation, suicide and substance abuse that we are seeing during these critical times.”
The Samaritans of Rhode Island will use its grant to maintain its suicide prevention services, to provide COVID-19 related supportive services, to prepare for returning volunteers and to recruit new volunteers.
"Many funders are delaying grants, government budgets are decimated and fundraising events had to be postponed. At the same time, we expect a surge in daily supported callers as people who already struggle with overwhelming fear cope with the pressures of the COVID-19 experience,” said Denise Panichas, executive director. “And then, in the months and years ahead, we anticipate a wave of new callers driven to call our listening line by the hopelessness associated with the financial, health and social ramifications of the pandemic. This grant ensures we have the resources to continue responding to all calls for help."
Bradley Hospital will expand the services of its Kids’ Link RI behavioral health triage and referral network. This award will help Kids’ Link RI provide support for children who are impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and in emotional crisis. Bradley Hospital will also use the funding to provide suicide prevention training to school personnel statewide and install tablet-based work stations at Bradley and the emergency department at Hasbro Children’s Hospital to provide psychiatric telemedicine.
“We are in unchartered territory as a nation, state, health care system, and even as hospitals,” said Bradley Hospital President and Chief Medical Officer Henry T. Sachs III, M.D. “We are very fortunate to have an excellent communication process at Lifespan and with our state government that has allowed us to navigate these dynamic times as effectively as possible, including rapid expansion of our Kids’ Link RI™ program to serve as a clearinghouse for almost all child, adolescent, and family behavioral health concerns across the state during this time of significant stress.”
The Foundation created the COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund in partnership with the state Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner with more than $5 million in funding from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Tufts Health Plan and UnitedHealthCare.
“The mental health and substance use disorder treatment community is absolutely critical through this pandemic and beyond. These grants serve as a means for health insurers to collectively provide some of the essential health care supports we need to persevere and recover,” said Marie Ganim, state insurance commissioner.
"Supporting the mental health of Rhode Islanders has always been essential, but now more than ever, we need to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "These grants will support Rhode Islanders’ behavioral health needs, which in many cases have been worsened by this crisis. While we must practice social distancing, it’s important that we not become isolated from the help we need as we fight this virus.”
The COVID-19 behavioral health fund awarded grants to organizations that:
- Support evidence-informed programs that meet a specific local need related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Support operating expenses necessary to continue delivery of behavioral health services.
- Serve communities that are disproportionately impacted by behavioral health issues and are underserved by behavioral health supports.
The Foundation expects to announce a second round of grants from the fund later this summer.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $47 million and awarded a record $56 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2019. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.