Q & A with Campaign Co-Chairs Richard Parker and Brooke Weinmann
January 02, 2015
Why now? Why is this plan important today?
Richard: Young adults have accounted for more than half of all admissions each year since 2012. A specialized facility and programing just make sense. Secondly, five years ago, Skyland Trail tested integrated primary care, and the model has proven invaluable to clients in services. By expanding this program both in terms of physical space and reach to adults living in the community with a mental illness, I believe we will contribute to healthier lifestyles and greater longevity.
Brooke: Many factors are aligning to make this the right time for Skyland Trail and the community. For 25 years, as the field of psychiatry has been homing in on effective evidence-based treatments, Skyland Trail has been applying that research through a holistic, integrated treatment model and measuring the results. As the stigma of mental illness is beginning to recede, a dialogue is taking place about the responsibility that communities have to increase access to effective treatment. At the same time charitable foundations and individuals are becoming more educated about mental health and engaged in community solutions to the programs individuals and families face.
What kind of response have you received from the philanthropic community?
Richard: Wow! The response has been tremendously positive. The foundation community has recognized the importance of timely targeted treatment of this age group and endorsed Skyland Trail as uniquely suited to deliver effective treatment. More than one donor has said that “we need to get this done now!”
Brooke: The response has been amazing. Pretty much everyone "gets" it either because they have family members or friends who struggle with mental illness and/or they recognize the importance of having an outstanding, best-in-class institution like Skyland Trail in Atlanta. There is also always an acknowledgement of the superb leadership at Skyland Trail and an understanding that their investment will be used well and will make a difference.
What is needed to meet the goal and make Changing Minds a brick and mortar reality?
Richard: Changing Minds speaks not only to the ability of treatment to affect positive outcomes for our clients but also to shifting the community’s perception of mental illness. The campaign is an opportunity for foundations and individuals to hold up a new lens through which to view this important issue – to show mental illness as a treatable disease, not an affliction – as something that can affect all of us, not just a few. We need others to show their support for individuals reaching for recovery and the nationally recognized work being done by Skyland Trail to help them.
Brooke: Unlike churches, schools and even museums, psychiatric treatment organizations like Skyland Trail do not have the broad, deep, multi-generational constituencies that other institutions can boast. We need everyone to understand what a resource Skyland Trail is, on so many levels -research, best practices, leadership, treatment, hope - and how important it is for the Atlanta community to support it.