Rotarians for Mental Health
An Advocacy Coalition of District 5450 Rotary Clubs
October 1, 2020
For Immediate Release
‘Rotary Connects’: Providing smart phones to vulnerable clients of mental health centers
When community mental health centers moved to “telehealth” because of COVID-19, some clients had no means to connect for their mental health care, despite the common perception that “everyone has a cell phone today.”
Rotarians for Mental Health, R4MH.org, an advocacy coalition of District 5450 Rotary clubs, took action. The group obtained $20,000 as a Disaster Response Grant from The Rotary Foundation.
The result was Rotary Connects – providing cell phones to 600 vulnerable clients and connecting them to their therapists and prescribers at nine Colorado mental health centers. These centers provide hope and support to individuals struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse disorders in the Denver seven-county metro area. Also benefitting are mental health clients in Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Morgan, Summit and southern Weld counties.
These centers used Rotary Connects money to help identified clients receive smart phones or plan minutes. Some cell phone companies offered deeply discounted phones and services for this purpose.
Curt Harris is governor of District 5450 with its 61 clubs. He said, “I am very proud of Rotarians for Mental Health and the many clubs in our district that are responding to this pandemic with compassion, generosity and inventiveness. Rotary Connects certainly meets a critical need of some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.”
Hans Wiik, a co-chair of Rotarians for Mental Health and member of the Rotary Club of Boulder, explains the origins of the project: “The therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists at Mental Health Partners, serving Boulder and Broomfield counties, became acutely aware of this need when clients could not be reached after clinic sites closed due to COVID-19. They needed to connect to clients to confirm appointments, conduct therapy, approve medication refills or schedule lab work as required with certain medications.”
He added, “To support clients’ various therapy-related needs and also for connecting to other resources in the community — crisis lines, transportation, shelters, food pantries — phones became essential.”
The need was the same for the other mental health centers, which include AllHealth Network, Aurora Mental Health Center, Centennial Mental Health Center, Community Reach Center, Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Mental Health Center of Denver, Mind Springs Health and North Range Behavioral Health.
The centers, especially those with walk-in services for assessment and support, recognized the immediate isolation of clients without smart phones.
Though most centers have re-opened for in-person care in varying degrees, telehealth, and the need for cellphone connection, likely will remain a key venue for years to come.
Sarah is a case manager at Mental Health Center of Denver. She shared this account: “One of my clients was extremely grateful for the phone. I am also extremely grateful, as I now have a way to contact this person. It’s made delivering medications and doing wellness checks much easier. Staying in contact is more important than ever right now, and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without the phone. Please give the donor a big thank-you from me.”
Rotarians for Mental Health has 19 member clubs in the Rotary district. It is best known for its annual mental health symposium, held in connection with the Denver Southeast Rotary Club’s State of the State Luncheon. This year’s symposium focused on suicide prevention. The organization also encourages clubs to adopt mental health projects.
Rotary’s motto is “Service Above Self.” Rotarians for Mental Health demonstrates that through Rotary Connects. Individual clubs in the district also are responding to the pandemic and community crisis, many supporting local food banks.
The Rotary Foundation provided $4 million of grants to districts, which could receive a maximum of $25,000 each and choose how to allocate it. District 5450 prioritized mental health needs. Rotarians for Mental Health received $20,000 and created Rotary Connects. Another $5,000 went to Colorado Crisis Partners, a statewide, 24/7 crisis intervention system that gives Coloradans greater access to crisis services, regardless of their ability to pay.
Rotary International has more than 35,000 clubs worldwide.
For further information, please contact Ebonii Moore, Ebonii@brandtherapyteam.com, 303-763-0835.
Member Clubs of Rotarians for Mental Health
Denver Cherry Creek
Denver Mile High
Longmont Twin Peaks
Parker Cherry Creek