A critical issue concerning the future of the Fox Valley will be the subject of an important public discussion on Tuesday, March 6, 6-8 p.m. at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel. It is no less an issue than the mental health of our children.
The discussion is one of eight “town meetings” that The Post-Crescent and its sister USA Today Network newspapers will be conducting around northern and central Wisconsin. The Appleton meeting will be streamed live on the Post-Crescent’s Facebook page and will be available later in the archive of the newspaper’s Kids in Crisis series. A panel discussion and storytelling by local teens will be part of the event.
The Fox Cities LIFE (Leading Indicators for Excellence) Study — a data-focused overview of the quality of life in the the Fox Cities with four priorities for community action — sponsored by the Community Foundation, United Way Fox Cities and the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry — has called out teen depression and suicide as a concern since 2006. The 2016 LIFE Study identified youth safety — including bullying, depression and suicide — as a top priority. More data added to the study last year to explore life here from the perspective of minority groups found the suicide rate continues to exceed state (6%)and national (8%) averages and more than 45% of students who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual reported having considered suicide, versus 13% for heterosexual students. Actual suicide attempts also are significantly higher for these groups.
The Fox Valley has by no means stood pat on the issue. School-based mental health screening and support have been implemented in schools and communities throughout the region. Schools and programs in Hortonville, Waupaca and Neenah have all been supported by recent Community Foundation and donor fund grants:
The Appleton-based counseling provider Catalpa Health and its partners NAMI Fox Valley and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley opened offices in the Waupaca Woods mall for services including in-school services thanks to a $50,000 “Forward Together” grant from the Tim and Joy Neuville Family Fund within the Waupaca Area Community Foundation, along with a $7,500 grant from the Waupaca Area Community Foundation Fund. READ MORE.
- Catalpa also is involved in a comprehensive school-based mental health program called E3 (Engage, Educate, Empower) implemented in the Hortonville Area School District. Grants from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership — funded by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs within the Community Foundation from the U.S. Venture Open charity golf outing, the J. J. Keller Foundation and other community partners — provided mental health assessments, education for teachers and families and on-site therapy. READ MORE
- Students in grades K-5 in the Neenah Joint School District will benefit from a school-based mental health program made possible by a $300,000 grant through the Basic Needs Giving Partnership for a program called HOPE (Healthy Outcomes through Positive Engagement). Collaborators with the district include Catalpa Health, NAMI Fox Valley and Samaritan Counseling. READ MORE
- Our affiliate the Chilton Area Community Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant for a school-based mental health program with a therapist on site one day per week in the Chilton Area School District, in partnership with Catalpa Health.