Ensuring No Child Suffers In Silence
Mental health challenges affect millions of people every day. According to a survey by the CDC, more than one in five children living below the poverty level suffer from a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. More than 400,000 children live in the Appalachian region of Ohio, which experiences above-average rates of substance misuse, foster care placements, and low-birth-weight births. Southeast Ohio falls short of the state averages on every measure of health. These children face daily traumas and challenges, and little to no support is available to them. That is where the Appalachian Children Coalition steps in.
The Appalachian Children Coalition was formed a year ago to promote the expansion and enhancement of mental health resources for children across the Ohio Appalachia. Their work involves awareness-building, advocacy, convening, resource generation, and workforce development activities for kids across the 25 counties they are currently engaged with. These counties are rural, with small, widely distributed populations, and no large population centers. The Coalition looks to connect children at home, at school, and in their communities to make sure the resources reach people where they are.
Members of the Coalition include nine mental health boards and nine educational service centers.
Support from the HealthPath Foundation allowed the Coalition to hire their first executive director, which was imperative to drive the organization’s growth and expansion.
The funding also supported two initial areas of success: promoting policy that improves the ability of Appalachian communities to gain increased broadband funding from the State of Ohio and receiving $2 million in federal funding from the Ohio Department of Education to expand the school-based mental health workforce, which affects seven counties in the Coalition’s region.
According to the Coalition, to have an executive director who can fully focus on the organization’s mission and goals, promote awareness of the organization across the region and to leaders at the state and federal level, and pursue additional resources to support the Coalition’s growth is an incredibly valuable resource.
The Coalition calls itself a “servant organization,” which they define as “an entity that stands to serve those entities that serve children and families.” Every dollar they receive contributes to work that enhances mental health resources for schools, mental health boards, mental health providers, social service agencies, juvenile justice agencies, and more in their region. Support for the Coalition is support for a broad ecosystem focused on children and their needs.