Loneliness is a growing problem in our state and our country. A 2021 report from Harvard’s Making Caring Common suggests that “36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.’” This report also explains that loneliness is linked to a variety of health issues, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and domestic abuse.
The Minnesota Legislature, in SF 2934A, is addressing this problem through grants to a variety of community organizations. The Family Enhancement Center is receiving a $400,000 grant in Fiscal Year 2024 to allow youth and families who have experienced trauma to participate in community engagement programs which will sustain their recovery and prevent relapse. This grant allows FEC “to develop, maintain, and expand community-based social engagement and connection programs to help families dealing with trauma and mental health issues develop connections with each other.”
We are incredibly grateful for this grant from the Legislature and know that it will help further our goal of providing hope and healing to children and families. We are especially grateful to Senator John Hoffman, Representative Emma Greenman and Representative Aisha Gomez for their work to include FEC in the bill. Your friendship and support mean the world to us.
The money will be used to continue and grow The Nest Program, which provides support for families struggling with child management issues either due to a parent or child’s mental health, family trauma or other stressful circumstances that make parenting difficult. We match a volunteer parent mentor with a family, and they help parents identify child and parent strengths, grow their social and parenting skills, learn behavioral and emotional de-escalation techniques and connect parents with community resources. This grant also allows us to create new programs that will specifically address combatting loneliness through community engagement.
Mental health treatment is a critical service, and community engagement is the missing component of the long-term solution to trauma recovery. These social engagement programs will be available to youth and families who are waiting to receive mental health services, which will stop serious mental health conditions from developing. More information about these new programs will be available in the coming months.