Dear Risa Fund Family,
Let’s talk about mental illness. Sadly, the events of 2020 – from the global pandemic to racial/social tensions and the tumultuous election – have fueled our nation’s growing crisis. Two in five U.S. residents report struggling with issues including anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Those in the 18-25 age group have been hit particularly hard, and thoughts of suicide have increased across the population, including among young children.
Although this year’s goals shifted because of the pandemic, the Risa Fund has continued to support our partners during this challenging time and has embraced promising new partnerships to address the needs of youth and young adults. More on these and other endeavors can be found at risafund.org/programs:
- ArtReach at THEARC transitioned to virtual programming, which has enabled them to expand their reach. Art therapy and journaling workshops focused on this year’s overarching themes of mental health, self-care, stress management, and the fight for social justice.
- We leveraged our partnership with Leveling the Playing Field to distribute 500 sports kits to inner-city schools, encouraging movement to elevate mood during a time of decreased youth sports activity.
- Our work with DC Scores also moved to a virtual platform, bringing together the entire AMERICA Scores network for a session on trauma-informed coaching. Coaches remain in contact with nearly 2,500 youth, keeping them safe, supported, and connected.
- Together with our minds matter, we developed an infographic of DC-area mental health resources as well as warning signs of mental illness. We teamed up with local food banks to distribute this critical information, including crisis hotlines, into the hands of those isolated and struggling during quarantine.
- We are proud to have joined forces with This Is My Brave, whose mission is to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness. The Risa Fund in part sponsored the production of a teen podcast series, The Brave Wave, launching in early 2021. Further, through a mentorship with TIMB’s teen creative director, we helped inspire the launch of an Instagram account (@thisismybraveteens). Both the podcast and Instagram channel aim to make the discussion of mental health part of mainstream culture.
The work of the Risa Fund has never been more necessary than now. We remain committed to investing in organizations which share our focus on transitional age mental health, suicide prevention, and reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness.
We are grateful for your contribution, and we offer sincere wishes for a healthy and peaceful 2021.
Gail, Ariel, and Sophie Schonfeld