The Weissman Children's Foundation COVID Relief Initiative is dedicated to providing full access to evidence-based mental health treatments—therapies rigorously tested and supported by scientific research—for every child and family in need.
PROBLEM: A mounting mental health crisis, largely ignored by the federal government and insurance companies, has experienced a surge due to COVID. With higher rates of anxiety, depression, suicide, trauma and grief, as well as child behavior issues and marital/family conflict, our nation’s most vulnerable and marginalized families are too frequently denied access to affordable, effective care.
SOLUTION: Effective and immediate mental healthcare for all children, families and young adults, regardless of ability to pay.
WCF aims to bridge this gap in equitable and affordable care by offering highly specialized mental health programs and services for uninsured and underinsured children, families and young adults, with an emphasis on helping underserved BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) populations.
1) Comprehensively publicize increased availbility of COVID-relief pro bono services to our community partners by Tuesday, December 8th.
2) Begin matching our highly specialized, expert team of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and clinical supervisors with families by Thursday, December 10th.
3) Begin providing high quality, evidence-based psychotherapies to ~50 new underserved COVID-affected families in crisis through the end of December and into the new year.
4) Track mental health equity and effectiveness data and outcomes to evaluate our program, contribute to the research on COVID and Mental Health in diverse communities, with an eye toward increasing systemic access to mental health services, reducing mental health disparities and eventual public policy change (into 2021 and beyond).
why we're doing it
My team and I at the Weissman Children's Foundation are very excited to launch our COVID Mental Health Relief Initiative. We hope you will partner with us in this effort! We chose IOBY's platform in light of their like-minded mission and their new NYC COVID Relief matching and fiscal sponsor programs, which means that every dollar donated will be matched/doubled, and is now tax deductible! I just want to say a huge thank you upfront to IOBY for this amazing opportunity.
A Little About our Mission:
As this country fights the twin pandemics of civil liberty and the COVID pandemic, those of us concerned about mental health are waging a battle against a third “hidden” pandemic. The federal government and insurance companies still deny high-quality, effective mental and behavioral healthcare to those without means.
It is up to us to take this on. The twin pandemics have heightened pre-existing mental health crises and inequities affecting our nation's youth, contributing to higher rates of anxiety, depression, social isolation, substance abuse, suicide, behavioral challenges, family conflict, trauma and grief – all of which is disproportionately so among diverse communities.
The Weissman Children's Foundation and its COVID Mental Health Relief Initiative were established with the goal of changing our nation's mental healthcare system by creating access to high-quality, affordable, evidence-based mental healthcare for all.
DID YOU KNOW?
As we head into the winter holiday season, COVID rates are rising just as people head indoors. Amid this growing risk to our health, a new Oxford University study tells us COVID is more directly linked to mental illness than previously known. For example:
- 1 in 5 COVID patients were diagnosed with elevated rates of anxiety, depression and insomnia within 3 months of testing positive for the virus.
- Unexpectedly, those with pre-existing mental health conditions were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID.
- Researchers recommend that mental illness should be regarded as an important COVID risk factor.
“While there have been studies and reports warning of an impending mental health crisis prompted by widespread change, uncertainty, and isolation amid social distancing measures, the scope of this research really highlights the magnitude of the problem,” states a Forbes report on the study.
At the Weissman Children’s Foundation (WCF), we have been voicing our concern about this now proven link between COVID and increased mental illness in children, families and young adults – and how it disproportionately affects diverse communities. With this new evidence, we hope there will be better support from the federal government and insurance companies to provide high-quality mental health services to those without means.
Through WCF, we aim to remain a step ahead and help families in need now. To date, we have served 135 underserved families with a goal of 150 families by year end. We are building momentum and need your help.
It takes a village to reshape the mental health landscape in our country – and to help those struggling among us now. Please join us and help us help underserved children and families in need https://ioby.org/project/covid-mental-health-relief-0
With much love and gratitude,
Adam S. Weissman, Ph.D.
Founding President, CEO, and Chief Psychologist
Weissman Children's Foundation
*A Message From Dr. Weissman*
Dear Friends and Family,
For years, The Child & Family Institute has advocated for reforming a broken mental health system that only provides effective, science-backed treatments for those who can afford expensive, out-of-network services.
To remedy this, my team and I created the nonprofit Weissman Children’s Foundation weissmanchildrensfoundation.causevox.com, in development since January 2020. With our partners, we hope to radically change the mental health landscape by offering affordable and equitable access for anyone in need of high-quality mental and behavioral healthcare.
A Turbulent Year
Over these past months, mental health challenges have spiked in response to the twin pandemics of COVID and racial and civil unrest. WCF’s newly launched COVID Mental Health Relief Initiative is a broad-based effort to help our most vulnerable communities, closely tied to the Black Lives Matter movement and widespread issues of racial, social, and economic inequity.
Our initial goal was to help 25 families during the early months of the COVID crisis. We have already quadrupled that number, with more than 110 families served. But we need to do more! Our COVID Relief Initiative aims to:
-Provide immediate individual and group psychological and social-emotional support to those suffering from COVID-related anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, job loss and financial worries, social isolation and virtual schooling.
-Provide parents with concrete, behavioral parenting skills to help support their school-age children’s anxiety, attention, trauma, grief and acting-out behaviors.
-Train students and young professionals in evidence-based psychotherapies, based on our WCF/Columbia University-Harlem dissemination-through-training model.
-Conduct mental health equity and effectiveness research, with an emphasis on BIPOC populations.
We are passionate in our belief that all children and families deserve high-quality mental and behavioral health services. We aim to raise $40,000 in November and December (in honor of my 40th birthday!). This will fund the equivalent of 800 individual therapy sessions or 1,600 group therapy sessions, as well as provide the necessary infrastructure to begin scaling our COVID Relief programming nationwide.
We are off to a great start with generous contributions from Columbia University Teacher’s College, the American Psychological Association, the New York State Psychological Association, the Westchester County Psychological Association, My Best Practice, The Child & Family Institute, and a number of private donors.
With your support, we can prepare more children, families and young adults to better cope, adapt and thrive in an uncertain time. Together, we can reshape the mental health landscape in our country to promote aid and equity for all.
Please join us!
With love and gratitude,
Adam S. Weissman, Ph.D.
Founding President, CEO, and Chief Psychologist, Weissman Children's Foundation
This week, we hit a terrible COVID milestone. 300,000 lives lost in the United States alone. Also this week, we saw our front-line healthcare workers get the very first vaccinations, offering us some hope for better days ahead. But unfortunately, there is no vaccine for mental illness.
A recent CDC study supports what we are seeing clinically – a “hidden” mental health pandemic, reporting surges in anxiety, depression, substance use, and suicidal ideation during COVID – and disproportionately so among younger adults and racial and ethnic minorities. And a new Oxford University study has now directly linked COVID and mental illness, reporting that 1 in 5 COVID patients were diagnosed with elevated rates of anxiety, depression and insomnia within the first 3 months after testing positive; and that those with pre-existing mental health conditions were 65% more likely to be diagnosed with COVID. The study concluded that mental illness should be regarded as an important COVID risk factor.
As many psychologists are aware, both the federal government and the insurance companies, have not adequately prioritized coverage for effective psychological services. In fact, it’s been over a decade since Congress first passed the Mental Health Parity And Addiction Equity Act, with its promise to make mental health treatment just as easy to access as other medical services. Yet still today – amid a global pandemic, an economic crisis, an opioid epidemic, and spikes in anxiety, depression, and suicide rates – the vast majority of Americans continue to be denied access to high quality, evidence-based psychological services. Even more devastating is how this is disproportionately true among underserved communities of color.
To address this gap in mental health access and equity, the Weissman Children’s Foundation has launched a comprehensive COVID Mental Health Relief Initiative. To date, we’ve helped nearly 150 families, with a plan to roll out services to an additional 100 families to start the new year. We’ve launched an online holiday fundraising campaign, raising more than $45,000 through partnerships with Columbia University, local and state psychological associations, a generous COVID Relief matching grant, and over 100 private donors. Currently, we’re in the process of creating an Equity and Effectiveness Scientific Research Council, partnering with internationally renowned psychology researchers and treatment developers to study treatment effectiveness and mental health disparities in the communities we serve. Please consider joining our campaign to help change the mental health landscape and access to care in our country, at weissmanchildrensfoundation.org.