Bristol-based organization gets $100K to improve mental health outcomes

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 5/23/24

The Bristol-based chapter of The Arc has received a $100,000 grant to conduct mental health training and engage the community on how to better serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the state.

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Bristol-based organization gets $100K to improve mental health outcomes


The Bristol-based chapter of The Arc, a national advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), has received a $100,000 grant to conduct mental health training and engage the community on how to better serve people with IDD throughout the state.

The grant, financed by United Healthcare, was announced earlier this month, with the Bristol chapter of The Arc being one of 10 chapters chosen among 30 applicants to receive a piece of a $2.5 million grant award distributed over the next three years. To put in perspective The Arc’s reach, it has around 550 chapters nationwide, but only one in Rhode Island.

The grant will be used to conduct training for Arc of Rhode Island staff through Mental Health First Aid, a national mental health educational course that claims to have trained more than 3 million people across the country in better identifying and understanding how to react to someone having a mental health crisis, and how to get them proper help.

The local trainees will then be deployed throughout the area to offer training opportunities to others who are interested in being able to better serve people with IDD in their own communities.

According to Sequaya Tasker, Senior Executive Officer of Program Initiatives for The Arc’s national office who has worked in the mental health advocacy field for 35 years, the trainings are key to closing gaps in services available to those with IDD.

“What we have found in the space of mental health is there is a lack of them getting the supports they need. Be it anything from working with a behavioral health provider, working with a psychiatrist or psychologist. There are gaps,” she said. “I would say maybe about 15% of people get the support they need because of these gaps.”

Tasker said that the training opportunities will begin some time in July, and will be open to everybody from EMTs and firefighters to local politicians, who will hopefully take the opportunity to become better educated on mental health issues and how to help people with IDD in their communities.

She said that providing better education and training opportunities has led to demonstrably better outcomes in communities where they have done such work.

“I do feel education is a key component, because when you know better, you do better,” she said. “That is one thing The Arc really strives to do at all of our chapters. By bringing in the community as a whole and educating them and welcoming them so they can be exposed to people with IDD and understand it’s a person you’re dealing with, not just that title or that diagnosis they have; this is a person and a human being, and they deserve the same respect as anybody else.”

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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