PASADENA, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente announced a $6 million, five-year Community Mental Health and Wellness Initiative with an immediate Local Partnership Grant (LPG) grant allocation of $1.28 million to combat and improve access to mental health services. The initial grant allocation is funding a group of two-year grants to support 16 nonprofit community partners working to improve mental health and wellness in under-resourced Southern California communities.
“The prevalence of mental illness is significant and growing in Southern California and across the country,” said John Yamamoto, vice president, Community Health & Government Relations, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. “For adults and youths affected by mental illness, the effects can be devastating, increasing their risk for serious medical conditions, diminished quality of life, and even suicide. These grants are designed to address the mental health needs within our most under-resourced communities by funding trusted nonprofit organizations that serve these areas and populations.”
In Kaiser Permanente’s continued efforts to improve mental health and wellness in the communities it serves, it once again identified mental and behavioral health as a top community health initiative.
The grant will award approximately $80,000 to each of the 16 nonprofit community partners to aid these organizations that are representing the clinical, social service, advocacy, public, and primary and secondary school sector in Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. These organizations’ efforts include:
Every day, millions of adults and youths with mental health issues struggle in silence, either because they cannot get the appropriate care or are too ashamed to seek help. Mental health disorders are among the most common health conditions faced by Americans and Californians, with nearly one in five American adults experiencing mental illness and one half of all chronic mental illness beginning by age 14.
Kaiser Permanente’s mental health and wellness initiative seeks to address these issues in communities through improving equitable access to high-quality care and reducing the effects of mental health stigma. Some of the grantees supported by this funding have found unique ways to address mental health through a grassroots approach directly into at-risk communities. An example can be seen through one of Kaiser Permanente’s mental health grant recipients, Mindful Beauty, a pilot educational program spearheaded by Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science designed to equip African American hair stylists with knowledge, skills, and tools to notice signs in their female clients who may be at risk for depression.
“Many black women don’t seek professional treatment for depression and other mental health issues,” said Sonya Young Aadam, chief executive officer, California Black Women’s Health Project. “In addition to the limited availability of mental health resources, there’s also a cultural stigma that they’re supposed to be strong and deal with it on their own, or they fear people will call them crazy, or they think it can be ‘prayed away.’”
Mindful Beauty is a seven-week program that will train these stylists on how to recognize the signs and be able to recommend the various types of mental health care services available. Hair stylists will act as mediators to help increase the behavioral intention of their clients to seek mental health care treatment, when feeling depressed. They receive training to learn about depression, resources for mental health care services and share experiences and stories among peers through workshops, lectures and through small group discussions.
Margo Wade LaDrew, founder and executive director, Black BeautyShop Health Foundation added, “Given that black women visit the salon an average of 2.5 times a month – and some even weekly – the beauty shop is an ideal place to educate women and equip them with practical tools for improving their family’s health. Stylists are trusted by their clients, and black beauty shops have always been a haven where women discuss and share everything. Just think about it, Black women are visiting the hair salon more times a month, sharing their deepest life stresses, in a trusted environment - more times there than they would a doctor or mental health professional in possibly a lifetime.”
Cynthia Davis, MPH, assistant professor, Charles R. Drew University, College of Science and Health, is looking forward to launching the Mindful Beauty program. Davis will utilize university resources to capture data to measure the program’s outcomes.
The complete list of all 16 community grant recipients of the Local Partnership Grant are:
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.