The North Central Accountable Community of Health (NCACH) has announced a $456,736 grant for the Hope Squad program, which addresses youth mental health struggles and suicide prevention.
The NCACH covers Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties. According to its website, Hope Squad is already present in 31 states, including Washington, and has helped refer thousands of students to mental health treatment.
The funding provided by the NCACH would provide curriculum and four years of programming through Hope Squad for all 48 middle and high schools in the NCACH’s coverage area.
“The Hope Squad is a school-based suicide prevention program that uses advisers to choose youth in each grade to participate as Hope Squad peers and learn about inclusion, resiliency, noticing signs and symptoms of someone struggling and then alerting advisers,” according to a news release from the NCACH.
The funding comes partly from a grant from Cambia Health Solutions, which gave $2 million to be split among Washington’s nine Accountable Communities of Health. The NCACH expected to receive $245,000 of that total grant, Executive Director Linda Evans Parlette told the Methow Valley News in February.
“We are grateful to Cambia for their generous and timely investment in rural mental health,” Evans Parlette said in a statement. “We are especially excited for the opportunity to adopt this program and address these needs regionally, as that is what ACHs were designed to do.”
Funding for suicide prevention in teens is timely, said Dr. Julie Rickard, founder of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of North Central Washington, in a news release. Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee has seen a 36% increase in emergency room visits for self-harm, suicide attempts or suicidal ideation in teens under 18, she said.
“The program is really a game-changer for our region,” Rickard said.
For more information on Hope Squad, go to https://hopesquad.com.