Mental Health America receives $3.5 million grant from Elevance Health Foundation for substance use, addiction disorders program

Alexandria, VA, Oct. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Mental Health America (MHA) today announced that it is a recipient of a $3.5 million grant from Elevance Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Elevance Health Inc., to expand its efforts in online interventions for substance use and addiction disorders.

The three-year grant will be used to fund the MHA Screening for Early Intervention for Substance Use Disorders project, a national effort to create and test innovations in online early intervention tools for people with addiction concerns. The programs and tools created through the project will build knowledge and skills and connect youth and young adults to care through MHA’s Online Screening Program.

“Overdose and drug-related deaths dramatically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more people turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with increased stress over the past few years,” said MHA President and CEO Schroeder Stribling. “Early intervention is critical to effectively treating all mental health conditions, including addiction. This grant will be transformational for our work in early identification and intervention with substance abuse and for ending the harmful stigma and shame, which so often keep people from seeking help.”

Over the next three years, MHA plans to rapidly expand and test its online content, explore the use of Digital Peer Bridgers to help someone transition from online help-seeking to in-person care, and expand the research and development of crowdsourced-based online tools where those with a substance use disorder can interact with others to build knowledge and skills for recovery. The goal of this program is to serve individuals in the earliest stages of addiction and reach those in underserved communities.

“Substance use disorders alone affect more than 20 million Americans ages 12 and over, and 9.5 million adults report having both a substance use disorder and a mental illness. These startling figures drive home our commitment to partnering with organizations like Mental Health America that are creating solutions on a local and national level,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., chief health officer of Elevance Health. “This is one of the many reasons why the Foundation has made substance use disorders a key area of focus, and why we are enthusiastic about the innovative work MHA is doing in the space.”  

Among the screeners who took an MHA substance use screen:

  • 79% screen likely to have a substance use problem
  • 52% report having no past or present treatment for any behavioral health concern
  • 65% report living in households that make under $60,000 a year
  • 40% of screeners identify as Black, Indigenous, or person of color (BIPOC)
  • 83% are under 35 years old and 31% are under age 18
  • 35% identify as LGBTQ+
  • 44% report struggling with more than one addiction (42% with alcohol, 38% with marijuana, 26% with tobacco, and 20% report self-injury/cutting)

MHA’s current screening data shows that people with early signs of a substance use disorder turn to the internet to seek answers. Through the Elevance Health Foundation’s investment, the MHA Screening for Early Intervention for Substance Use Disorders project will be designed to provide motivation for individuals to enter and stay in treatment, learn what kinds of treatment are best for them, and apply skills even if they are not in treatment. This grant is part of Elevance Health Foundation’s commitment of up to $30 million over the next three years to support programs that address mental health, with an emphasis on substance use disorder.

Visit the MHA website to learn more about our programs and resources.


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