The Monadnock Region’s community mental health center plans to recruit more providers for its children’s programs, including mental health clinicians who work with kids, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the N.H. Charitable Foundation.
The funds for Monadnock Family Services (MFS) — which has locations in Keene, Winchester, Peterborough and Jaffrey — are part of a $500,000 donation from the Charitable Foundation to the Granite State’s 10 community mental health centers. The money will be distributed over two years to support services for children and families. Specifically, the grant must be used for initiatives that aren’t covered by insurance companies, but that still have an impact on health outcomes, like support groups or staff training.
“It means we can strengthen the capacity of the organization,” said Phil Wyzik, Monadnock Family Services’ CEO. “It’s pretty cool.”
At MFS, Wyzik said it’s clear that recruiting would have the most direct effect on helping children and families in the area. The center offers counseling, psychiatry, case management and more. It currently has 35 open positions, including at least four openings for children’s clinicians.
With those positions filled, the center could potentially offer therapy and other services to more families. Currently, those openings stress the entire organization and limit the number of cases MFS can take on, according to Wyzik.
“That impacts our capacity to do all the things we want to do,” he said.
He added that there’s a misconception that working for a nonprofit like the mental health center is a low-paying job. In January, he said, five out of six applicants who were offered positions accepted them, suggesting the pay was competitive.
Still, the number of applicants for open positions has decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and signing qualified people is competitive. Wyzik believes sign-on bonuses will help encourage more people to take jobs with MFS.
“It sometimes does make the difference in someone accepting an offer,” he said.
In the past, the organization has offered sign-on bonuses of $5,000. It’s not yet clear how much future sign-on bonuses may be or what particular positions they will be used for, according to Wyzik.
Roland Lamy, executive director of the N.H. Community Behavioral Health Association, an organization made up of the 10 community mental health centers, said the flexible funding of the grant empowers each center to decide how to make the greatest impact in their region.
“Having this funding stream will ensure that New Hampshire’s community mental health centers have the resources needed to help keep our communities healthy,” he said in a news release.
Each center has identified priority areas for the funds, including enhancing support groups, providing mental health first-aid training, and — like MFS — enhancing workforce incentives, Lamy said.
The Charitable Foundation awarded the grant after seeing that young people and families, who were already struggling before the pandemic, are even more in need of services today, according to the release.
“We believe that now, more than ever, our community mental health centers need flexible philanthropic funds to be able to respond to community needs in real time,” Traci Fowler, director of behavioral health at the Charitable Foundation, said in the release. “The Foundation’s investment complements significant federal and state dollars that are also working to support and enhance New Hampshire’s critical community mental health infrastructure.”