RAND, REACH-NOLA Partnership Receives $1.2 Million Grant For New Orleans Mental Health Project

For Release

October 2, 2007

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded the RAND Corporation a $1.2 million grant for a two-year project to help develop improved, culturally appropriate mental health services in New Orleans.

“New Orleans community members have faced increased stress since the hurricanes of 2005, while also having access to fewer mental health services,” said Dr. Benjamin Springgate, project director and an adjunct scientist at RAND. “Developing additional evidence-based services to promote emotional well-being and resilience is critical to long-term community recovery.”

In the two years since Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures that devastated New Orleans, the prevalence of mental illness in citizens has more than doubled. One-third of New Orleans residents exhibit symptoms of mental illness, and one in six have moderate to severe cases.

The Health and Resilience Project grant was awarded to RAND, a non-profit research organization, on behalf of the REACH-NOLA partnership. REACH-NOLA (Rapid Evaluation and Action for Community Health in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a community-based participatory research and action partnership working to improve community health and access to quality healthcare in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Participating groups include RAND Health, the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, Common Ground Health Clinic, Tulane Community Health Center at Covenant House, St. Anna Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, Israelite Baptist Church, UCLA/RAND National Institute of Mental Health Center for Research on Quality in Managed Care, St. Thomas Community Health Center, Catholic Charities, and Louisiana Public Health Institute.

The project, which will run through August 2009, will assist faith-based organizations, existing clinics and other community groups in developing at least two Health and Resilience Centers that will address mental health problems in community-based settings, said Springgate, who is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar.

“The Health and Resilience Project is an answer to our prayers and a testimony to the hard work of each of the REACH-NOLA partners,” said the Rev. Larry Campbell, a project leader and community co-chair of the REACH-NOLA partnership. “Now we can move further along in our efforts to improve community wellness by reducing the challenges to accessing appropriate health care, challenges that in large part have limited our community’s capacity to recover.”

For more information about REACH-NOLA, visit www.reachnola.org

RAND will administer the grant, helping community groups to develop mental health services based on proven program models. This project will be supported by the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute (RGSPI.)

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org

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