HANCOCK — The Portage Health Foundation, along with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, is seeking proposals for grants to address the growing mental and behavioral health needs of adolescents.
The foundation plans to award up to $300,000 during this round of funding for projects in Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties.
Areas sought for programs include early intervention and prevention programs for problems such as substance use disorder; suicide prevention and awareness; emergency and mobile crisis response; mental and behavioral health service access, coordination and navigation; youth leadership development; parent education and engagement; addiction services; and programming addressing other forms of mental illness, and forms of reliving anxiety such as physical or mindfulness activities.
While the foundation had seen studies, Store said he got a sense of the human stakes at a prevention and awareness event in October. About 1,100 sixth- through eighth-graders from the four-county area attended a prevention and awareness program through the foundation and Dial Help, said Kevin Store, director of the Portage Health Foundation.
One of the questions asked was how many children had considered suicide. In a partial photograph of the auditorium, 82 hands went up, Store said.
“There was a little boy in the sixth grade – a little cherub – Father Mulcahy glasses on,” he said. “What would possibly be going on in his life that he would raise his hand?”
Store said studies have shown the prevalence of smartphones has exacerbated trends such as depression, reduced face-to-face time, increased bullying, and less dating.
“That’s why this particular grant and this path of granting that we’re going to be taking focusing on these issues is so important,” Store said.
The recent Communities That Care survey showed while drug and alcohol experimentation had stayed flat, negative attitudes about drug use had softened, setting the stage for worsening problems with substance abuse and depression further on, Store said.
While organizations can apply for funds at any time the foundation has done targeted calls for proposals in the past, said Chelsea Goodreau, the foundations’s marketing and communications coordinator.
Another RFP on mental and behavioral health programs will likely follow in June, Store said.
Three more RFP announcements will follow over the next six weeks, Store said: a recreational fund, small grants and a re-release of food initiative funding.
Optional letters of inquiry for the mental and behavioral health RFP are due at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 19.
The applications are due at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 23. Final grant awards will be announced March 12.
For more information go to phfgive.org.