Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii has awarded two grants totaling $100,000 to Adult Friends for Youth and Mental Health America of Hawaii. Both grants aim to improve the health and well-being of Hawaii’s most vulnerable children.
Adult Friends for Youth received $50,000 to support its education and career readiness program. The organization aims to break the generational cycles of violence, incarceration, unemployment, homelessness and poverty by cultivating coping skills among youth. The grant will enable Adult Friends for Youth to provide redirectional therapy and counseling services to high-risk youth to address their mental health and educational needs. The program will create safer schools and communities while also preparing participants for post-secondary education, enabling them to become economically secure in the future. Over 85% of Adult Friends for Youth’s counseling program participants are of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander descent.
Mental Health America of Hawaii was awarded $50,000 to support its youth resilience and wellness training and education program. The program will provide 1,300 youth and youth-serving adults with evidence-informed suicide prevention and bullying prevention training over 6 months and will enable Mental Health America of Hawaii to increase training to individuals in rural areas of Oahu, Hawaii Island and Kauai.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the social, emotional and mental health of keiki,” said John Yang, MD, President and Medical Director of Hawaii Permanente Medical Group. “We’re proud to partner with Mental Health America of Hawaii and Adult Friends for Youth to foster emotional resilience in youth, so that they can cope with challenges in healthier ways.”
Kaiser Permanente was one of the first organizations to recognize the link between childhood trauma and health. It led groundbreaking research on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), that include abuse, neglect or household dysfunction that can affect a child’s ability to flourish well into adulthood. In the United States, 64% of children experience at least one ACE before 18, and 13% experienced 4 or more ACEs. ACEs are a root cause of many of the most significant public health challenges we face today — increasing the risk of severe conditions ranging from heart disease, chronic lung disease and suicide to gun violence, domestic violence and substance dependence.
Kaiser Permanente is working to improve the conditions for health in the communities it serves. These grants are the latest in a series of contributions from Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii to help residents throughout the state receive vital support services that impact their overall health. In 2021, Kaiser Permanente dedicated $3.8 million through community grants and scholarships to improve health and wellness in Hawaii.