EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – United Way of Southwestern Indiana (UWSWI) has announced an investment of $400,000 into improving local mental health care access for low-income people.

UWSWI says the Mental Health Pathway Grant is the first funding opportunity for mental health services since the organization shifted its focus to address root causes of poverty and help families overcome barriers to economic sufficiency.

UWSWI says research shows a link between poverty and mental health challenges. Likewise, there is evidence that mental health struggles prevent people from escaping poverty, creating a vicious cycle. A significant increase in demand for mental health care services is creating a strain on local providers, which is further limiting access.

According to UWSWI, funding will be invested into the following local nonprofit applicants:

  • Catholic Charities will receive $177,840 to increase the hours and capacity of a part-time counselor. Grant funds will also help with the financial loss of providing a slidingscale fee model to low-income clients who otherwise cannot afford mental health care.
  • Youth First is awarded $222,160 to help with the cost of hiring more social work staff. The funds will enable Youth First to hire a social worker fluent in Spanish, a Substitute School Support Specialist who will fill the gap when school social workers are absent, and a Clinical Supervisor to support the increase in capacity. Youth First identified a gap in service for students whose primary language is Spanish. This grant will help extend service to students who were previously underserved.

Scott Branam, CAO of Deaconess Cross Pointe commented, “With the overwhelming demand we are currently seeing in our nation and community for behavioral health, we are very excited United Way is dedicating funds for this critical service. As a member of the review taskforce, it was impressive to see the time and energy put into the process, as well as the rigor that went into the proposal review and selection of grantees. It’s a shame there is not enough money to fund every application.”

For more information on United Way’s Pathways to Potential, visit this website.