A new nonprofit collaboration was announced on August 12 in a press conference at the Easterseals Rehabilitation Center. The innovative partnership will have a significant impact on the mental health crisis affecting so many Tri-State children, youth and families. The new initiative brings the programs of Mental Health America of Vanderburgh County under the umbrella of Easterseals, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The partnership between the two nonprofit organizations will play an important role in meeting the community’s growing need for mental health information, education, and resources.
Nationwide, one in four American adults lives with a diagnosable mental health condition. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has listed mental health as one of the state’s top five priorities. Locally, mental health issues are the focus of the Community Health Needs Assessment and Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s Task Force on Mental Health.
To help address these needs, Easterseals began expanding its psychology services two years ago by creating a clinical psychology internship program. Predoctoral interns in their final year of training before earning a PhD provide assessment and treatment under the supervision of Easterseals staff psychologists. The internship has allowed Easterseals to quadruple the program’s capacity, reduce wait times for appointments, and serve 800 Tri-State children and families.
A second priority of the Easterseals psychology expansion has been to provide community outreach and education about mental health, which is an area of expertise for Mental Health America of Vanderburgh County (MHA). MHA’s strong, established programs have provided mental health support and resources to thousands of individuals in Vanderburgh County and beyond.
Recognizing the potential for greater community impact, the MHA board of directors recently approached Easterseals with a proposal to join forces. Easterseals leaders wholeheartedly agreed, embracing the collective goal of strengthening and expanding mental health programs and resources.
MHA Board Chair Erica Esche announced that MHA’s programs and services are continuing under the Easterseals umbrella, furthering the mission of both organizations more effectively through combined experience and expertise and expanded resources. MHA’s board will play an essential role in the parternship’s strategic vision through a mental health advisory committee to the Easterseals board.
Easterseals President/CEO Kelly Schneider announced that Emily Reidford, Executive Director of MHA for the past 10 years, has joined the Easterseals leadership team. As Vice President of Community Outreach & Education, Emily will continue the focus on mental health information, awareness and community trainings established and facilitated by MHA. Those important initiatives include Southwest Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition, Resilient Evansville, and FACES System of Care.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and United Way of Southwestern Indiana President/CEO Amy Canterbury expressed their strong support for the partnership. They congratulated both nonprofits for the excellent example of collaborating and combining resources to better serve the entire community.