The demand for youth-focused mental health resources is on the rise, but there aren't enough providers to keep up with the need, and the help that does exist is often hard to access.
To address this growing crisis, the Los Altos Mountain View Community Foundation announced it will distribute $100,000 in grant funding to organizations in Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills that support youth mental health. Applications are currently open, and the deadline to apply is April 3.
The Community Foundation works to empower local nonprofits by providing grants and fostering partnerships with organizations that are already working to solve some of the toughest issues facing the community.
The foundation’s program officer, Nadja Jackson, said the need for more youth mental health services was already on the rise before COVID-19. But the pandemic brought an already mounting issue to a head.
“There’s an overall crisis, and then there’s particular inflection points related to the pandemic, in terms of social isolation,” Jackson said. “If you don’t have children showing up at school, and with teachers and trained staff eyes on them every day to see what their wellbeing is. … A lot of problems would have gotten picked up on if there were other adults seeing them on a day to day basis.”
Jackson emphasized that while the foundation itself is not a service provider, this is what the organization is hearing from the groups that do provide mental health help to local youth and adolescents on a daily basis. The foundation’s role, she said, is to empower those service providers to keep doing what they do best.
“Rather than saying, ‘We have the answers,’ we’re saying, ‘You are the experts. What are you seeing? What should we be paying attention to?’” Jackson said. “Our goal is to learn from what comes in from the grant applications, to help wrap our arms around where potential solutions are.”
Grant applications are open to nonprofits and community-benefit organizations that directly support the mental health needs of youth and young adults in Mountain View, Los Altos or Los Altos Hills. Jackson said that can include everything from working to decrease the stigma around mental health, to education around the growing use of narcotics among young people, to early intervention and prevention.
“Maybe we’re going to hear from organizations we’ve never funded before. They might be new, or they might just not have known about what we’re doing, or maybe they’re newly coming to serve in this area,” Jackson said. “I see a lot of different organizations coming in from different angles.”
The amount that each organization will be awarded, and how many will be chosen, depends on need.
“We don’t go on an allocation model,” Jackson said. “We go looking at, what are they proposing? What service are they providing in the community?”
For those interested in applying, the Community Foundation will hold a virtual question and answer session on March 7. Register here.
“Even if we can’t necessarily give them everything that they need, we’re really trying to build more of a community even among the providers,” Jackson said, “and hopefully getting towards a coalition where everybody’s pulling in the same direction but each doing their own part.”