On September 5, Kaiser Permanente donated $1 million to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The contribution from the nation’s largest integrated health system will aid in immediate relief and recovery efforts, as well as help address mental health and wellness needs of those impacted by the devastating rains and flooding.
Half of the donation will go to the American Red Cross for immediate needs in affected areas, such as medical care, food, shelter and clothing. The other half will go to Mental Health America of Greater Houston, to provide mental health and emotional support for survivors, first responders and others affected by the storm.
“Our hearts go out to the thousands of people who’ve been displaced by this hurricane — especially those most vulnerable — who’ve lost their homes, their life’s belongings and in some cases, their loved ones,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, senior vice president and chief community health officer for Kaiser Permanente. “We felt it was critically important to support mental health services in addition to relief aid. We know that beyond the physical damage of this storm, those affected will feel the mental and emotional impact of this storm long after the waters recede.”
“We are deeply concerned for the mental health of those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” said Don Mordecai, MD, Kaiser Permanente national leader for mental health and wellness. “People affected by tragedy can experience fear, anxiety, sadness and trauma. Those effects can linger long after the disaster, and for some people, may not surface until weeks or months after it. We want to give mental-health agencies in the impacted areas the needed resources to extend support to all who need it.”
Kaiser Permanente has also long been committed to advancing mental health. Through partnerships and grants, Kaiser Permanente works to reduce stigma, increase awareness and improve access to care.
“As we focus on the recovery and rebirth of Houston’s Gulf Coast region, I am grateful to live and work in a city that understands a healthy community is a strong community, and that its strength includes the mental health of its residents,” said Susan Fordice, president and CEO of Mental Health America of Greater Houston. “It’s our responsibility as a community-serving organization to be responsive to the ongoing mental health needs of our children, families and all individuals who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. I want to thank Kaiser Permanente for their help and concern. We will work collectively with community partners to establish a protective barrier of support and a lifeline of hope that benefits everyone whose lives have been touched by the storm. We know the mental health community will be called to respond to significant needs in many different ways over this region’s vast geography for a very long time.”
If you would like to support the relief efforts in Houston please visit the Disaster Relief page FAQ section which has a list of resources and ways you can personally help.