A whole-child approach program to alleviate social and emotional stress caused by a pandemic

PHOENIX, October 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley and Terros Health will provide free behavioral health services to youth at a time when they need them most, thanks to a collaboration between the Arizona Department of Education and three Arizonabased private foundations – The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, the Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation and the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust.

The Whole Child Approach program will help alleviate social and emotional stress among children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 18 at Boys and Girls Clubs in Maricopa and Pinal counties that were disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

“Our club members face so many barriers to accessing much-needed behavioral health services, including transportation, financial and cultural challenges to stigma. Bringing these services right into the clubs, where we can use proven prevention and intervention services, will help thousands of young people who need it most,” said Marcia Mintzpresident and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley.

Mintz said the three-year pilot program will serve youth in mostly underrepresented communities, as well as students at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system or with a parent in prison. Additional emphasis will be placed on those under the supervision of the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The Whole Child Approach program is made possible through a visionary public-private partnership led by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley. The 9 million dollars total program costs are partially funded by a 3 million dollars subsidy from Arizona Department of Education as part of the US bailout. The extra 6 million dollars will come from investments from the three philanthropic foundations.

“The Arizona Department of Education is proud to partner with the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley in this innovative public-private partnership for behavioral health,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. “We know that helping our state’s students recover from the pandemic will require a community-wide effort that the Boys & Girls Clubs are well equipped to support.” Organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and their philanthropic partners are deeply embedded and trusted in the communities they serve, making them excellent partners in our state’s recovery efforts.” Kathy Hoffman, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, Arizona Department of Education.

“Bringing together state and local foundation sponsors on this scale is almost unprecedented,” Mintz said of the partnership, “and a testament to our partners’ enduring commitment to the young people in our community.” This program builds on the success of another pilot partnership with Bayless Health funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Chandler Comdress. The effect of having wellness coaches in clubs has improved club climate, staff morale and safety and has had a positive impact on youth and teenagers. This advanced program will bring true behavioral health to clubs every day.

Beginning this fall, Terros Health will embed behavioral health coaches at 10 of the Valley’s Boys and Girls Clubs. Each year the program will expand until it is operational in all 30 clubs. Terros staff members will work to assess the mental and physical health of children and young people. This will be accomplished through peer interaction, age-appropriate play, and other activities that promote recovery and teach youth developmental skills that enhance their success in school, work, and life, using evidence-based social-emotional programs. learning (SEL).

“It’s a way to identify the challenges our children are experiencing without judgment or stigma,” said Dr. Karen Tepper, president and CEO of Terros Health. Behavioral health professionals will use a variety of therapeutic interventions, including mindfulness activities to help children manage their emotions, along with art therapy and life skills training. The team will recommend further treatment for young people if needed. “The idea is to fill gaps in mental health services and improve access to treatment.”

“Renee and I believe that breaking down barriers and helping to change the conversation around mental health is absolutely necessary,” said Bob Parsons, co-founder of The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. “Children today need hope and an easier way to access help. That’s why this Boys & Girls Club program, which provides care directly to children through everyday activities, is a game changer.”

The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation stepped up first as a partner for this large-scale mental health program. Reaching youth and teens in a familiar environment without taking them out of school or placing them in a clinical setting is a unique aspect of the whole-child approach.

“Mental illness is relentless, insidious and compelling. Our youth are exhausted and it is absolutely imperative that we come together as a community to support and strengthen their mental health and well-being,” said Mary Jane Rhind, President and CEO of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. “The long-term effects of childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences impact not only mental and physical health, but also educational outcomes, economic stability, and the health and well-being of generations. This comprehensive partnership between the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley and Terros Health is exactly the type of “meet them where they are” approach that urgently needs to be implemented.

Tom Eganexecutive director of the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation, explained their investment, “The Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation focuses on addressing the imperatives around education and health services. We are proud to invest in this important public-private partnership, especially at a time when we know so many young people struggle with mental health challenges. Providing easier access to services on a regular basis will improve club climates and outcomes for youth who in the past would not have had access to these needed services.”

National and local, there is a spike in depression, anxiety, substance use and suicidal thoughts among youth. The problem has become so acute that the US surgeon general issued a rare public health advisory last December.

In his State of Mental Health in America 2021 report, Mental Health America noted that youth between the ages of 11 and 17 are more likely than any other age group to experience moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression. The report also found that nationally, 60 percent of youth with depression do not receive mental health treatment, even in states with the greatest access to care.

Arizona ranked almost last (49th) in the nation for the high prevalence of mental illness and the severe lack of access to behavioral health care for youth.


  • Arizona ranks fourth in the nation in dropout rate based on data from the US Department of Education.
  • Based on 2021 Arizona Department of Health Adverse childhood experiences in Arizona report Arizona had a higher ACE prevalence in all nine ACEs assessed in the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) compared to the national prevalence. Arizona children on average had higher ACE scores than the national average with 21.9% of Arizona children who have experienced two or more ACEs. The national average is 18.6%.
  • Child abuse is calling Arizona are up 10 percent from this time last year, according to the Arizona Department of Child Safety. The agency reported 22,265 cases of child abuse and neglect from January to June 2021resulting in 14,461 out-of-home care placements.

“Covid-19 has taken a heavy toll on our youth and their families,” Mintz said. “Our whole-child approach program is designed with these individuals in mind – to help them on their path to full well-being.”

SOURCE Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

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