The United Health Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), is making a $3 million commitment over three years in partnership with Active Minds, a leading nonprofit organization promoting mental health awareness and education for young adults.
With 19 years of impact and a presence at more than 1,000 campuses, schools, communities and workplaces nationwide, Active Minds is reducing the stigma around mental health, creating communities of support and saving lives. This funding will enable the organization to launch a pilot program in 50 school districts across Minnesota, North Carolina and Florida to better serve youth mental health at the middle school level for the first time.
This new partnership will address key findings from the United Health Foundation’s 2022 America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report. Released today, the report reveals sharp increases in youth mental health challenges:
Anxiety among children ages 3-17 increased 23% between 2017-2018 and 2020-2021. In 2020-2021, anxiety affected roughly 5.6 million children ages 3-17 — an increase of more than 1 million children since 2017-2018.
Depression among children ages 3-17 increased 27% between 2017-2018 and 2020-2021. In 2020-2021, depression affected roughly 2.5 million children ages 3-17, an increase of over a half a million more children than in 2017-2018.
The teen suicide rate increased 29% at the national level between 2012-2014 and 2018-2020 among 15- to 19-year-olds.
“Many mental health disorders can start by age 14, so it’s critical that we provide promotion, prevention and early intervention strategies to equip younger adolescents with the necessary tools and coping skills to proactively manage and care for their mental health,” said Alison Malmon, executive director and founder of Active Minds. “Just like many other illnesses, mental health promotion strategies can be powerful tools for helping young people thrive.”
Funding from the United Health Foundation will enable Active Minds to address these challenges. Building on Active Minds’ evidence-based approach to improving the mental health of college and high school students, the pilot program will address middle school students’ social and emotional needs, improve attitudes related to mental health, decrease stigma and increase a student’s likelihood to help a friend with mental health challenges. Following the pilot, Active Minds plans to launch middle school programming nationwide.
“Our young people are the future of healthy, strong communities. We look forward to helping youth gain skills to help counter the alarming increases we are seeing in youth mental health,” said Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer, UnitedHealthcare Employer and Individual. “We must work together to expand evidence-based solutions to help our young people thrive.”
For more information about the 2022 America’s Health Rankings Heath of Women and Children Report, visit www.AmericasHealthRankings.org.
About the United Health Foundation
Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, the United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. The United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, the United Health Foundation has committed more than $700 million to programs and communities around the world. To learn more, visit www.UnitedHealthFoundation.org.
About Active Minds
Active Minds was founded in 2000 by Alison Malmon following the suicide death of her older brother. Now, Active Minds has a presence at more than 1,000 campuses, schools, communities and workplaces each year. Active Minds was cited in The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory “Protecting Youth Mental Health” as a best practice program, and the organization recently participated in the inaugural Mental Health Youth Action Forum at the White House. In 2021, Optum partnered with Active Minds to support a study on the well-being of those in the hospitality industry as part of the Active Minds’ @ Work program.
About America’s Health Rankings
For over three decades, America’s Health Rankings® has assessed the nation’s health and provided data-driven insights to support better health outcomes and build healthier communities. Produced by the United Health Foundation, America’s Health Rankings evaluates a comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to illuminate both health challenges and successes, determine national and state health benchmarks and enable stakeholders to take action in improving health.