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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Demand for Mental Health Services in Northern Kentucky Continues to Surge

Jane Herms of Family Nurturing Center NKY.

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Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky has granted $71,000 across three local nonprofits to support their drastically increased caseloads following the coronavirus pandemic and its substantial impact on mental health across the community. 




The following grants have been issued to support Northern Kentuckians: 
- Family Nurturing Center, $61,000 to hire a qualified therapist to serve the increased mental health needs of children and teens served by the agency 
- Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, $7,000 to support costs for increased telehealth services for the young people served by the agency 
- DCCH Center for Children and Families, $3,000 to support Zoom subscription costs to meet the increased need for telehealth services 

“Our local nonprofit partners in the mental health care space continue to be a steady hand in stormy waters for so many of our Northern Kentucky neighbors,” said Horizon Community Funds President Nancy Grayson. “The Relief Fund likewise maintains its steady focus on where to plug in and support those most in need. The pandemic’s effects will be felt and seen for some time, and we urge all Northern Kentuckians to continue to support one another. These continue to be uncommon times for us all, and we need to be uncommon advocates for each other.” 



Agencies receiving grants cited several reasons for the increased demand: 
- During quarantine, children were isolated away from their normal routines of daycare, school, and sometimes extended family. If they lived with an abuser, then the abuser had uninterrupted access to the child(ren) for extended periods of time with no other “eyes” seeing the signs and symptoms. This caused the abuse to go on long term and consistently.  As a result, the severity of trauma seen in children is greatly increased.  

- During the pandemic, both parents and children were isolated, dysregulated, stressed, and had a heightened level of the “unknown”.  These added pressures of job loss, financial stressors, fear of illness, and isolation caused typically healthy functioning and safe families to have unsafe levels of emotional chaos and at times become neglectful or abusive when in a more typical year, would not have reached that degree of struggle. 

- Children and adults who had previously done work to heal from traumatic events in their lives were retriggered, leading to an increase in previous participants calling in to resume services or get booster sessions. 

- Treatment episodes were longer in length, or consistency of appointments was a struggle for families due to the transition from in-person services to virtual services, back to in-person services. Trauma therapy is very challenging to do virtually, specifically for teens and very small children, which caused some of these agencies’ work to slow down in moving its youth and young children through their continuums of care.  

“We are so grateful for this funding and for the support of Horizon Community Funds,” said Family Nurturing Center Executive Director Jane Herms. “An additional therapist is critical to helping us address our waiting list of nearly 50 people needing specialized, trauma-responsive therapy. This responsive grant is a great example of the generosity of our Northern Kentucky community.” 

The nonprofits were able to swiftly shift from offering minimal or no telehealth services prior to the pandemic to implementing Zoom and other virtual meeting platforms to meet their clients’ needs. Based on the success of implementing these functions and their ability to continue care, the organizations do not see an end date for use of virtual meeting options. 

“Thanks to key relationships such as the one CHNK Behavioral Health enjoys with Horizon Community Funds, CHNK has offered approximately 6,500 unique telehealth services since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020,” said CHNK Behavioral Health CEO Rick Wurth. “These telehealth services make CHNK healthcare professionals available to some of Kentucky’s most vulnerable youth and families.  

“The financial support received for telehealth services is empowering CHNK Behavioral Health to partner with Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services to expand Family Preservation Program (FPP) services in Northern Kentucky and to inaugurate Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST). CHNK Behavioral Health is only the second provider in Kentucky to offer MST services. Both FPP and MST services rely on telehealth outreach as a necessary tool in providing outpatient services to families in crisis and preventing more children from entering foster care whenever safely possible.” 

Virtual platforms have also enabled nonprofits to keep their internal teams connected and trained, ensuring that services maintain a high level of quality even in times of crisis for both care providers and recipients. 

“We are grateful to HCF for helping DCCH deal with the unplanned costs for technology critical to providing care for our children and families during the pandemic,” said DCCH Center for Children and Families Executive Director Bob Wilson. “As a nonprofit with limited resources, their support has been a godsend to enable us to face the challenges of COVID while continuing our mission.” 

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to donate to the Horizon NKY Coronavirus Relief Fund by: 
Texting “NKYRELIEF” to 44-321 
Visiting www.horizonfunds.org 
Mailing a check made payable to Horizon Community Funds (memo: NKY Coronavirus Relief Fund): 50 E. RiverCenter Blvd., Suite 431, Covington, KY 41011 

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