Two Kent nonprofits get funds to provide mental health services

Two Kent nonprofits will receive funds to help provide mental health services to reduce health disparities.

Living Well Kent will receive up to $537,000 and Kent Youth & Family Services will get $225,743, according to a press release from Seattle-based nonprofit collaborative HealthierHere.

HealthierHere announced in June that it will invest $6.5 million to support 14 partner organizations to develop innovative approaches aimed at reducing health disparities across King County. HealthierHere is a nonprofit dedicated to improving health and advancing equity in King County,

The funding, which HealthierHere earned through its role as King County’s Accountable Community of Health, will be distributed to partners through two strategies:

■ $5 million toward Community-Based Social Determinants of Health Innovations to improve health outcomes by addressing factors outside of the health care system such as housing, employment, food access, transportation, mental health and more.

■ $1.5 million toward Tribal Health Innovations to reduce health disparities experienced by American Indians, Alaska Natives and Tribally Affiliated Indigenous people in King County.

There are nine regional Accountable Community of Health groups in Washington state working with cross-sector partners to improve health and wellness as part of the Washington State Medicaid Transformation. HealthierHere is the King County representative.

Kent Youth & Family Services serves a primarily low-income and BIPOC youth and families, many of whom are immigrants/refugees, who have faced long-standing disparities in both physical and mental health, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, according to a HealthierHere spokesperson.

Often times, families may be hesitant to access formal counseling, in addition there is also a lack of culturally appropriate and culturally relevant mental health services. Kent Youth and Family Services Innovation project will provide culturally responsive mental health supports by leveraging existing community resources and structures and offer accessible care through art and education activities familiar to the community.

Through this project Kent Youth & Family Services will take a three-prong approach to offer mental health supports on-site at its After School programs:

■ Weekly after school therapist-facilitated art-as-expression groups and peer group programs for elementary and teen participants on public housing sites to build mental health, self-esteem and problem solving

■ Mental health training for After School staff to better identify and respond to mental health needs among participants and families

■ Whole person health education for parents, families and community members

Living Well Kent will implement and design a Community Initiated Care 18-month program in Kent, according to a HealthierHere spokesperson. This Community Initiated Care approach will work with Somali, Afro-Latinx, African American, and Iraqi communities in Kent using “task-sharing” or “task-shifting”—a model of intervention not dependent on licensed clinicians, but rather nonspecialized, trained health care workers, and “lay” members of the community.

Living Well Kent will be using community navigators and faith-based leaders to design a culturally and linguistically appropriate program that addresses holistic mental health needs for underrepresented communities.

There will be pilot training/capacity building to support community members to ensure that they acquire the knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary to deliver high quality evidence-informed programs for prevention and early intervention of mental health concerns. Their overall goal is to bring awareness to a topic that is stigmatized within communities.

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