Independence Center Receives $94,009 Grant to Help Those with Mental Illness Stay Connected
Independence Center recently received a grant from the St. Louis County CARES COVID-19 Humanitarian Response fund for $94,009. The grant will ensure that those struggling with mental illness have access to their medical providers and can participate in our Virtual Clubhouse program from the safety of their homes.
In early March, Independence Center quickly implemented telehealth services to ensure the availability of essential mental health services through the COVID-19 crisis. Independence Center Executive Director, Mark Bethell, said 99% of its members live below the poverty line and many do not have access to a phone, computer, or internet and had no means to access telehealth services. He said finding a way to ensure they could stay connected to other people and healthcare providers became an urgent necessity.
“This was not an expense we could have foreseen a year ago, but it is vitally important now,” said Bethell. “Research tells us that isolation can often worsen symptoms of mental illness so we were very concerned about how this pandemic has already, and will continue, impacting those we serve. This grant will help us ensure that those who are homebound or are medically fragile can still receive the care they need and stay connected to our Virtual Clubhouse community.”
Independence Center’s Clubhouse plays an integral role in its members’ mental health recovery process by helping people regain the confidence lost by the stigma of mental illness. More than 180 members normally come to the Clubhouse each day to set goals, learn life skills, improve their health and interact with other people.
While the Clubhouse has been closed, Independence Center rapidly adapted its “Work-Ordered Day Program” to function virtually and continue supporting its members through telehealth services and utilizing private videoconferencing to facilitate meetings. Since shifting to telehealth services, Independence Center has conducted nearly 3,500 telehealth/virtual group services and more than two thousand individual telehealth services. Bethell added that many members are now seeing their health providers more regularly through telehealth appointments than they were for in-person visits.
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
July was Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month.
Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background. However, background and identity can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult. National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established in July, 2008 to start changing this. The purpose of this month is to:
- Improve access to mental health treatment and services and promote public awareness of mental illness.
- Enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.
Independence Center celebrated the month by sharing and posting information while looking at mental health through this critical lens. IC remains committed to ensuring all people have access to great mental health care and the supports needed to live independently and with dignity.
Our first Virtual Fundraiser, a mini ‘Thrive Drive’ continues through August. We are partnering with Urban Chestnut Brewing Company to help raise funds to support our members! Practicing social distancing, adjusting routines, and heightened fear of sickness all increase the need for exceptional mental health care, especially for those struggling with a mental illness. In order to keep providing this care for our members, we need your help!
Our goal for the mini Thrive Drive is $5,000.
Until August 14th, you can support Independence Center St. Louis by donating to our COVID-19 Emergency Relief efforts via our Summer Mini Thrive Drive Campaign. For a minimum donation of $20, you will receive a discount code to use at our partner vendor Urban Chestnut Brewing Company.
Thank you for your continued support of Independence Center and helping our organization and its members to THRIVE with your donation.