CEO, Mental Health Resources
Strength in Support
As the leader of a nonprofit supported by the Constellation Fund, I can say firsthand that working with Constellation is radically different from working with most other philanthropic foundations. To understand why, one must first understand the work of the organization I lead, Mental Health Resources (MHR).
The mission of MHR is to foster hope, health and recovery for people affected by mental illness and substance use disorders. I am passionate about this work and find that being surrounded by others who experience the same fulfillment has been one of my greatest joys. Watching MHR staff helping people overcome barriers and improve their lives drives me to instill greater creativity and collaboration within our organization.
Continuing to provide essential services through a pandemic, civil unrest and uprising, and a crushing workforce shortage has been the most difficult challenge of my career. MHR has never been more needed than it is today. And thanks in part to the support provided over the last four years from the Constellation Fund’s financial giving and Beyond Dollars capacity-building program, we’ve also never been stronger.
The 25-year disparity in life expectancy between a person who lives with a serious and persistent mental illness and the rest of the population is unconscionable. In any other area of health care, the public would be livid. We would have campaigns, champions, and research galore. Seeing none of this, it became clear that MHR would have to begin acting on its own rather than wait any longer. We know that correcting these disparities is not an insurmountable issue. But given that the mental health industry does not often support innovative approaches, philanthropic dollars help make it possible to do this work.
With financial support from the Constellation Fund, we have been able to sustain our dedicated Health and Wellness team to identify targets, design interventions, train case management staff, and measure the impact of our work. By using high level interventions that can be spread across numerous types of services, and ultimately touch thousands of individuals, we have been able to exponentially increase the reach of dollars given.
“Working with Constellation is radically different from working with most other philanthropic foundations.”
The work we are doing is innovative, smart, and supported by data. Connecting someone to smoking cessation treatment, dental care, asthma management helps them to take more active control of their medical health. People who do better physically often have better mental health, and those who are mentally and physically healthy typically have more productive and satisfying lives.
Without the Constellation Fund’s support, MHR would not be in the position it is today. The staff at Constellation see us as the experts in our field. They actively work to make it easier to access grant funds. They understand what it means to be partners and have deep listening skills that translate into incorporating feedback and connecting us to additional resources. We are given full control over the benefit cost report created with our data and the expertise of the Constellation Fund’s economists as additional leverage in conversations with our payers, regulators and other potential funders. The Beyond Dollars program has provided MHR staff with access to expert branding and marketing support, executive coaching, data analysis and intervention design.
Data driven interventions and the support to analyze that data should be a driving philosophy for any organization wanting to be a part of transformative work. Given the rising need, lack of public dollars, and inequities in our community, there is a desperate need for more philanthropic organizations to follow the path of the Constellation Fund. Accessing funds to support the fight against poverty shouldn’t be more difficult than doing the actual work.