UnitedHealthcare is awarding $1 million in Empowering Health grants to 4 community-based organizations in Washington state to expand access to care and address the social determinants of health for uninsured individuals and underserved communities.
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In total, UnitedHealthcare is donating $11 million in grants through its Empowering Health program across 11 states. The grants will assist individuals and families experiencing challenges from food insecurity, social isolation and behavioral health issues, and support local health promotion and health literacy efforts.
Grant recipients in Washington include:
- University of Washington School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center in partnership with the Richland and Medical Lake School Districts – $600,000 to strengthen an evidence-based comprehensive school mental health model. This interconnected approach will increase participation and active engagement of community partners, educators, families and youth, with an emphasis on suicide prevention, supporting the mental health strengths and needs of more than 15,500 students across the two school districts.
- The American Indian Community Center, Goodheart Behavioral Health, Spokane – $150,000 to hire a mental health clinician who specializes in therapeutic interventions for the Native American community and increase the number of community members served.
- Perinatal Support Washington, statewide – $162,500 to train and employ more interns and therapists from various racial and ethnic backgrounds to address gaps in perinatal mental health care for Medicaid-eligible and pro bono clients who have difficulty finding providers.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Yakima, Yakima, Wapato and Toppenish – $87,500 to expand the “Ending the Silence” mental health awareness program and ensure it is culturally relevant and responsive for Native American and Hispanic high school students in school districts on the Yakama Reservation.
“Social and economic factors have a profound impact on achieving and maintaining good health,” said Genevieve Caruncho-Simpson, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Washington. “Through our Empowering Health grants and local outreach efforts from UnitedHealthcare, we’re working with local organizations in the state to provide Washington residents with an interconnected system of clinical and social services that can produce better health outcomes and make the health system work better for everyone.”
According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, approximately 80% of what influences a person’s health relates to nonmedical issues, such as food, housing, transportation and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused additional social and economic challenges that continue to affect healthy behaviors and exacerbate health disparities.
More than a third of members screened by UnitedHealthcare for social-related needs experience at least 1 social determinant of health. UnitedHealthcare leverages the company’s data to identify health disparities according to race, ethnicity, gender, geography and education level.
Since launching its Empowering Health commitment in 2018, UnitedHealthcare has now invested more than $51 million in Empowering Health grants reaching more than 8 million people through partnerships with community-based organizations in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
UnitedHealth Group, including UnitedHealthcare and Optum, and its affiliated companies, is dedicated to advancing health equity and building healthier communities by supporting programs to improve access to care and address key determinants of health. In Washington this includes more than $5.8 million in contributions from 2019-2021 representing its businesses, foundations and employees, including a $3.3 million grant in 2021 to the North Olympic Healthcare Network to improve behavioral health care on the Olympic Peninsula.
This press release was provided by UnitedHealthcare of Washington.