The Trust announced grants of more than $3.5 million to continue expanding behavioral health services in rural North Carolina.
“Many rural communities have few to no options for mental health and substance abuse treatment,” said Allen Smart, vice president of programs of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. “We know mental health is a key component of overall health, so we are continuing to support organizations and programs that can bring critical behavioral health services to rural residents.”
According to the NC Rural Health Action Plan released last year, nearly 17 percent of North Carolinians over the age of 12 said they experienced some mental illness between 2011 and 2012. However, only a little more than 50 percent of children and adults who needed mental health services obtained care through the state’s publicly-funded mental health system. And in 2012, there were 27 counties, many of them rural, with no psychiatrists, and another 15 counties with fewer than .33 psychiatrists per 10,000 people.
Trust funding announced this month includes nearly $2 million to provide behavioral health services at five existing Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) sites, bringing integrated care to approximately 27,000 people who visit the sites annually. The FQHCs—often the only affordable, primary care provider in rural financially disadvantaged communities—are located in Edgecombe, Nash and Wilson counties.
“We believe integrated care—that is bringing together behavioral and primary health care providers to assess and treat the whole person in a coordinated way—is key to ensuring better long-term health outcomes in many of the financially disadvantaged communities we serve,” said Karen McNeil-Miller, president of the Trust.
The Trust’s Health Care Division also granted $1.3 million to Rural Health Group, Inc. to provide behavioral health services at existing and new School Based Health Centers located in five school districts in rural, northeastern North Carolina. As a result, more than 9,000 students will be able to access new behavioral health services. Rural Health Group will also provide school staff with consultation, training and prevention programming tools so that staff can help students successfully access services.
“The Trust is excited to support the expansion of School Based Health Centers,” said Smart. “And we’re pleased to see our Healthy Places NC work expanding to neighboring counties like Northampton and Warren Counties. We may be investing intensely in 10 to 12 counties, but it’s our hope that the areas around those counties will feel a positive impact as well.”
The Trust continued its work to improve health and health care in rural communities through Healthy Places NC, a long-term Trust initiative to invest $100 million in 10 to 12 rural North Carolina counties. The Trust has invited seven counties—Beaufort, Burke, Edgecombe, Halifax, McDowell, Nash and Rockingham—to participate to date and will announce additional counties in 2016. In each county, Healthy Places work and projects are driven by the community’s concerns, as well as by where the Trust thinks there’s an opportunity for sustainable, long-term change. Trust investments this grant cycle include six new KaBOOM! playgrounds, primary care services, leadership training, workplace wellness initiatives and the expansion of fitness and wellness facilities.
For a complete list of recent grants approved by the Trust’s Health Care Division, click here.