Every Child Matters

Guest Post by John Walker, Board Chair

More often than I would like, I hear about kids who need help with anxiety and depression. I hear about kids who are suffering, and parents who don’t know where to turn. I’ve even experienced some sad losses this year, as I know some you have too. There is simply a great urgency to do all we can to improve access to behavioral health services for kids and their families.

The need is so great that it can feel overwhelming at times. It reminds me of a story you have probably heard.

It matters to the one

A young girl walked along a beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up during a storm. With each step, she bent over and picked up a starfish and threw it back into the water.

She’d been doing this for some time when a man approached her and asked, “Why are you doing that? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl looked down and thought about it. Then she took another step, picked up another starfish and threw it back in the water. “Well, I made a difference for that one!” As she kept going, the man joined her. Then so did others.

That’s what we’re doing. We’re throwing starfish back in the ocean. Each of our efforts helps one child.

You matter to a child

The collective dollars and talent of LOHF supporters make each and every one of them an integral part of this movement to elevate the mental well-being of youth and children in Lancaster County. We can’t thank you enough!

Through their generosity, we’ve provided continuing medical education in children’s behavioral health to 140 physicians this year. These trainings are held 4-6 times per year at UPMC Pinnacle – Lititz, and are open to the public. If you’d like to join us for one or more of these free presentations in 2019, we’d love to have you!

Collectively, LOHF supporters provided similar training for school administrators and primary care providers through the Medical Education Coalition with IU13. This included important conversations addressing student and parent concerns about confidentiality. In May, the training will focus on school avoidance, anxiety, and truancy.

We know that physicians, behavioral healthcare professionals, and school personnel are not the only professionals we rely on to care for our kids. Again, thanks to the gifts of LOHF supporters, 27 nurses received a total of $63,000 in scholarships this year.

It doesn’t stop there. Thanks to LOHF donors and volunteers, we have completed research and development for NavWell: Pathways to Well-being. We developed this secure, online system to improve children’s behavioral health by connecting primary care providers with behavioral health providers. Discussions are happening with healthcare systems and providers about launching a pilot. We can’t wait to see NavWell fulfilling its potential by equipping primary and behavioral healthcare providers for collaborative care that benefits kids!

Remarkably, donations provided mental health copay assistance for 158 children and parents in financial need. These families paid just $10 per visit for their appointments with licensed behavioral healthcare providers. Think fora minute about a family that has been able to get mental health support that couldn’t before. Our supporters came through for them!

Together, we elevated the mental well-being of 38,682 youth and children through the LOHF Children’s Behavioral Health Grants program. Together, we put them back in the water to thrive. Each and every donor and volunteer makes this possible.

You matter to us

The need is great, and seems insurmountable at times. But like the girl rescuing starfish, we’re making a difference for the ones we can reach. We can’t do it without your help. With your help, we are elevating the mental well-being of youth and children right here in our communities—one, by one, by one.

On behalf of the kids and families who benefit from your gifts, and the board and staff of LOHF, thank you. You are truly changing lives, one at a time.

We look forward to another year of standing on the sand with you, helping starfish back into the water.