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Irsays' gift to expand mental health services for children and teens

A $650,000 donation will go toward expanding the Indiana Behavioral Health Access Program for Youth.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Jim Irsay family announced a partnership with Riley Children's Health to expand mental health services for children and teens.

A $650,000 donation will go toward expanding the Indiana Behavioral Health Access Program for Youth (Be Happy). The gift is part of the Irsays' Kicking the Stigma initiative to raise awareness about mental health disorders and remove the stigma associated with the illnesses. 

The Indiana Behavioral Health Access Program for Youth allows any health care provider working with children to call a free phone line and consult with one of Riley’s board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists. They will be able to get help with diagnostic clarification, medication management, treatment planning or other child mental health questions.

The Irsay family gift will allow for that program to be expanded to offer both psychiatric assessments and therapy for children and teens, who might not have access to those resources in their community. The therapy will be available in-person or virtually to reach children statewide. 

According to Riley:

  • As many as 500 families call Riley each week seeking outpatient mental health care for a child.
  • In 2020, a record 766 children and teenagers came to the Riley Emergency Department and required evaluation from the Riley Behavioral Health Access Center. In 2021, that number jumped to more than 1,260. 
  • Indiana is in the bottom 20% of states in availability of child psychiatrists and the top half of states in terms of youth suicide rates.

“Mental health is a challenge for so many, but it’s become more and more of an issue for young people across our state and country,” said Kalen Jackson, vice chair and owner of the Colts. “The Be Happy program is a win-win in that children benefit from quick access to Riley expertise and don’t have to wait to be seen or travel for care.” 

“Indiana children and adolescents are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, and the pandemic has pushed our state into a crisis situation,” said Dr. Leslie Hulvershorn, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Riley Children’s Health and interim co-chair of psychiatry at IU School of Medicine. “The expansion of this program will provide a lifeline to children and families facing behavioral health emergencies. We are incredibly grateful to the Irsays and the Colts for championing this cause.”

The Irsay family has committed more than $10 million to local and national organizations since 2020 to expand treatment and research related to mental health.

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