August 28, 2023

Grants improve the total health of our communities

Kaiser Permanente increases access to mental health services in Southern California.

Taking advantage of available mental health services can be life-changing.

As individuals and communities grapple with challenges posed by mental health issues, the need for accessible and effective mental health services becomes increasingly important. Thankfully, grants are powerful tools that help bolster these services and programs — working to bridge gaps and ensuring individuals receive needed support.

Addressing disparities in mental health care

One of the ways grants can help improve access to mental health services is by addressing disparities in how health care is provided. Often, marginalized communities and individuals face barriers such as not having enough money, insufficient local care, and stigma that prevent them from seeking and receiving proper mental health care.

Grants provide funding to establish community-based mental health centers, outreach programs, and support groups tailored to the needs of underserved populations. By eliminating financial barriers and providing needed services, grants make access to mental health resources easier. To that end, Kaiser Permanente announced a $2.3 million grant to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to help build a regional model and increase access to mental health services across California.

Access to services where and when people need it

This $2.3 million grant helps NAMI California strengthen its 56 affiliates by providing program management, professional development, assistance for affiliate leaders, advocacy training, and human resources support. The goal is to ensure all Californians can access mental health services where and when they need them.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. “Access to quality mental health services is a national priority, and demand is at an all-time high,” said Sandra E. Silva, senior director of community health for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California. “At Kaiser Permanente, we support the important work of NAMI and its goal to ensure Californians in need have access to critical mental health services.”

Providing direct mental health support and oversight

Under NAMI California’s new model, its 56 affiliates were reorganized into 6 regions with regional leads providing direct support and oversight, ensuring every county has a NAMI affiliate. Previously, 23 counties in the state did not have NAMI affiliates — leaving millions of Californians without access to NAMI’s services. Plus, only 30% of NAMI affiliates had full-time staff, which limited their ability to provide mental health services in their communities.

Easier access to mental health services has already made a big difference for a family in one of NAMI’s affiliate communities. One parent was able to take the 8-week “NAMI California Family-to-Family” education class when her son was having mental health challenges. This class helped her and her family understand her son’s mental illness and encouraged his journey to recovery. The “NAMI Family-to-Family” class changed her life and perspective on mental health.

Kaiser Permanente grants are vital 

Kaiser Permanente’s grants play a crucial role in increasing access to mental health services in local communities. Through their ability to address disparities, expand outreach and education, and more, grants create a more inclusive and supportive environment for mental health care. Kaiser Permanente remains committed to improving the total health of our communities.