Samaritan Counseling Center of the Fox Valley is a state-licensed outpatient mental health and alcohol and other drug abuse clinic based in Menasha.
It received a special award in the category: community response.
The center developed its Connected Community Wellness Screen in response to a disproportionate rate of teen suicides in the Heart of the Valley in 2009.
This innovative teen suicide prevention program brings mental health checkups to kids at their schools and connects them with the mental health care they need.
Judges were heartened by the organization’s commitment to tackling a serious community issue. “That someone is rethinking this problem is so important,” one said. “It’s pretty powerful.” Since its 2012 inception, Wellness Screen has grown from a one-school, 100-student pilot program to a regional resource serving 10 school systems and several thousand students.
In fewer than five years, the program has screened more than 4,700 students, identified 1,190 with symptoms associated with suicide risk and referred 924 for evaluation. Of those teens, 429 have connected with care.
Early partners kick-started Wellness Screen with $350,000 in grants, helping to make screening affordable for schools in the program’s first three years.
Investors included the J. J. Keller Foundation, the Mielke Family Foundation, United Way Fox Cities, ThedaCare’s Community Health Action Team, and the Basic Needs Giving Partnership Funds within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.
School systems now cover the bulk of the cost, with support for the 2016-17 academic year from the Bemis Co. Foundation, Oshkosh Corp. Foundation, Kimberly-Clark Cares, the Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region’s Girls’ Grantmaking Project, Plexus Corp. Charitable Foundation, Menasha Corp Foundation and the Galloway Co.
School systems in their third or fourth year of the program average 37 percent participation — almost 10 percent higher than the national average for youth mental health screening.
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