Resilient Georgia Makes Mental Wellness More Accessible in Georgia by Expanding to 12 Statewide Regions
Friday, October 8th, 2021
Resilient Georgia, a statewide coalition of organizations building a more resilient, trauma-informed Georgia, now reaches more than half of all Georgia counties with 12 regional coalitions ensuring urban and rural communities statewide have access to behavioral health resources. Resilient Georgia has been working with 12 regions across Georgia and the surrounding counties to provide a regional emphasis on trauma informed awareness and care, as well as prevention training on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and child sexual abuse as a basis to transform child-serving systems and procedures intersecting both public and private sectors.
“There are many talented groups doing great work around mental and behavioral health in Georgia. Resilient Georgia is determined to convene and connect leaders in the space to create peer learning to scale what is working and learn from what is not at the community level. These communities of practice also ensure resources are rapidly being shared to remove barriers in addressing systemic change,” said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Executive Board Chairperson of Resilient Georgia. “By building bridges between organizations and providers, we are expanding access to needed mental and behavioral health in Georgia.”
Resilient Georgia is dedicated to preventing ACEs, healing adversity and promoting resiliency. The nonprofit is focused on creating an integrated network of behavioral support and resources for Georgia’s children and families statewide and bolsters this work at the local level through its regional coalitions.
The timing of Resilient Georgia’s launch in 2019 was fortuitous and well-timed to support the mental and behavioral health “shadow pandemic” Georgia and other states nationwide are experiencing.
“Trauma informed care, ACEs prevention, and child sexual abuse prevention can be the basis for systemic changes in a community,” said Emily Anne Vall, executive director of Resilient Georgia, noting the organization’s efforts have intensified to address statewide needs in mental health, wellness, and resilience during the COVID-19 crisis and the country's racial justice reckoning. “Each Resilient Georgia Regional Coalition has identified how one or more of these content areas are delivered to marginalized and diverse community members through formal training, education, marketing and communications, research, advocacy, direct prevention and intervention activities and system of care coordination.”
The regional coalitions were established in Fall 2019 with initial grant funding supporting community coalitions based out of Athens, Augusta, Macon, Savannah and the surrounding areas. This was soon followed by funding to support coalitions based out of Albany, Columbus, Rome, Thomasville and surrounding areas. The most recent funding was awarded in March 2021 to regional coalitions based out of Clayton, Cobb, Gwinnett, Valdosta and surrounding areas.
“Funding from Resilient Georgia has allowed us to connect with a broad range of our community, convene on substantial trainings, share innovative approaches, and remove barriers to understanding,” said Sarah H. McKinney, president and CEO, Athens Area Community Foundation, which is part of the Athens Northeast Georgia coalition serving Barrow, Clarke, Jackson, Madison, Oconee, and Oglethorpe counties. “For example, our multiple Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings reached a broad array of community leaders and professionally trained us to have the knowledge and power to support teens in crisis. With the support of Resilient Georgia, trauma informed care weaves a spider web of connectivity and understanding. We are connected and ready to cross county lines, meet new leaders, plan expanded programming, and prepare our communities for the response necessary to mitigate cause and effect.”
Coalition initiatives to-date are captured in the 2021 Regional Grantee Summary Reports.
Resilient Georgia strives to create a better Georgia for our children, families, and communities by working together across sectors to prevent and address the impact of ACEs and resulting toxic stress.
“Public and private partnerships are key to improving family outcomes,” concludes Vall. “Resilient Georgia serves as a supportive and guiding resource during each region’s planning and implementation process; however, each grantee has been hard at work bolstering partnership and relationship building among community organizations, health care providers, legislators, public agencies, educators, academics and businesses in their regions.”