PORTLAND — The John T. Gorman Foundation has awarded 11 grants totaling $250,000 to help Maine organizations throughout the state increase mental health, wellness, and community support opportunities for older youth during the pandemic.

The funding comes in response to rising concerns about the well-being of young adults, who are suffering from the mental health effects of the prolonged pandemic as they are disconnected from school and other social supports.

“The pandemic has taken an enormous toll on people all over the world, including and especially our young people. We are losing them to isolation, substance use, and suicide at alarming rates,” said Lisa Margulies, program associate, according to a news release from the foundation. “These grants represent only a drop in the bucket compared to the resources needed to fully meet this crisis, but we hope that they will make a difference to the most vulnerable young people in Maine.”

The 11 grants awarded by the foundation will support organizations serving youth in eight counties of high need, as well as an initiative to support youth at Indian Township and a statewide organization serving LGBTQ youth. The organizations will provide an array of outreach activities and services to vulnerable youth, including connections to caring adults, mental health programming, and basic needs supports.

Grantees and amounts, along with counties served:
(Androscoggin) Rural Community Access Ministry – $15,000
(Androscoggin) Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services – $15,000
(Franklin) Rangeley Health and Wellness – $25,000
(Kennebec) Alfond Youth and Community Center – $25,000
(Knox) Knox County Homeless Coalition / The Landing Place – $25,000
(Lincoln) RSU 40 – $20,000
(Penobscot) Bangor YMCA – $25,000
(Somerset) RSU 54 / Somerset Career and Technical Center – $25,000
(Waldo) Maine Youth Alliance / The Game Loft – $25,000
(Washington) Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness / Indian Township Tribal Government – $25,000
(LGBTQ youth statewide) OUT Maine – $25,000

Prior to the pandemic, roughly one in five adolescents worldwide was coping with mental health challenges – and suicide was the third leading cause of death for teens aged 15 to 19. COVID-19 has only compounded these issues by reducing youth contact with school and other community supports, driving youth unemployment, disrupting social and community networks, and increasing drug and alcohol use. Anxiety and depression are up, as well as suicidal thoughts. According to the U.S. CDC, one in four young adults considered suicide this summer – significantly higher than the rate of one in 10 adults. In Maine, the number of youth with suicidal thoughts has almost doubled since the start of the pandemic, according to CDC data.

Grants to help address this crisis are the latest effort by the foundation to respond to the ever-evolving challenges of the pandemic. Over the last year, the foundation has given $1.5 million in COVID-19 grants to Maine organizations to provide food and shelter, domestic violence services, and child and family safety supports, as well to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color in Maine.

 

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