The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation's (BMSF) Mental Health and Well-Being initiative is fairly young, having been founded in 2011. (See Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation: Grants for Mental Health.) But the program is already making a big impact, especially for the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who return home facing mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The foundation has provided nearly $3 million in grants to organizations that support the mental health of veterans, with the object of supporting the "community-based" mental health programs that many health funders especially favor. (Read BMSF President John Damonti's IP profile.) The grants include:
- The Bedford VA Research Corporation (BRCI), based in Bedford, Massachussets, received more than $300,000 to work at the community level to prevent intimate partner violence (IPV) among veterans. IPV is physical or emotional abuse, and it occurs at a significantly higher rate among veterans.
- The Regents of the University of Michigan received nearly $1 million for a pilot program that will provide peer advisers for veterans hoping to attend college and receive a degree. With veteran dropout rates near 50%, it's clear that help is needed for these wounded warriors.
- The University of California at San Francisco received just over half a million dollars for an Internet-based initiative that combines online college-level courses with veteran communities. The project is intended to build links between veterans that will help provide both schooling for the civilian world and support from their fellow comrades.
- The National Center on Family Homelessness received $300,000 for a program that focuses exclusively on homeless female veterans. While this group is only about 5% of the nation's current homeless population, that proportion will likely rise as more women enlist and see active duty in the military. These female veterans will likely face many of the same challenges as their male counterparts, but of course will also encounter many unique obstacles.
- Vets Prevail, a new online resource for veterans, will benefit directly from grants given to two of its partners. The Rush University Medical Center Department of Behavioral Sciences received nearly $600,000 for a trial to test the effectiveness of Vets Prevail compared with existing programs. And the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization got nearly $200,000, also for a study on the efficacy of Vets Prevail.
Catharine Grimes, the director of the BMSF, says that although most of the grants are for only two or three years, she hopes that the programs will continue to flourish even after the foundation's funding dries up.