Talking about mental health can be uncomfortable. Its effects are often painful, disruptive, and destabilizing to families and to individuals who suffer from it. Addiction, anxiety, depression, and dementia are all examples of mental health challenges that affect people at every stage — and every walk — of life.
In our community, not only is it prevalent — it is also pervasive, and the pandemic only exacerbated existing challenges. For example, last year alone, more than 22,000 Palm Beach and Martin County residents called the 211 HelpLine seeking support for mental health or substance use disorders. Of those calls, over 850 were suicide related.
Like any health issue, mental health struggles that go untreated get worse. And the opportunity to address our neighbors’ needs is shrinking. So, how do we bridge the gap? The answer is philanthropy; it has the power to democratize mental health treatments for everyone in need.
For example, local philanthropy has fueled the work of organizations like the Center for Trauma Counseling, Inc. in Palm Beach County, which hit the road with their Mobile Hope Clinic to clock over 7,000 miles to reach as many Palm Beach County children, youth and families as they could. Generosity also buoys the work of the Community Partners of South Florida, which meets families exactly where they are — in their home, school, or even a McDonald’s parking lot — to offer comprehensive mental and behavioral health services. And giving even transforms our understanding of the root causes of mental health issues, as evidenced by the research coming out of the Florida Atlantic University Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute on FAU’s John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter.
These organizations on the front lines of caring for our community, combined with the visionary philanthropists who fuel their work, are the reasons we believe we can democratize mental health in our community. And it’s also why the Community Foundation for Pam Beach and Martin Counties is thrilled to unveil a new $100,000 fundraising match challenge entirely focused on this chronic issue of crisis proportions. The challenge was created by Shawn Donnelley to honor her mother, Margaret C. Donnelley, a lifelong philanthropist, and our area’s undisputed champion for mental health.
Thanks to Shawn’s generosity, four mental health-focused funds at the Community Foundation will each receive up to $25,000 in matching dollars for any donation received through June 30 supporting the Autism Project of Palm Beach County, Mental Health of America of Palm Beach County, NAMI of Palm Beach County, and a new Community Mental Health Fund. The end goal is to help our community destigmatize mental illness and continue Margaret’s pioneering efforts toward prevention.
The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties has acquired a vast amount of knowledge in our 50 years leading philanthropy locally. We understand both our area’s pressing challenges and the trusted partners we can convene to address them. That’s why, through the power of philanthropy and partnership, we have hope for mental health.
We invite you to join the challenge. To donate or learn more about all the funds that specifically address mental health, please visit yourcommunityfoundation.org.
Danita R. DeHaney is President & CEO of the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. The Community Foundation for Pam Beach and Martin Counties creates partnerships with donors, nonprofits and community members to solve the region’s chronic and emerging issues, including mental health.