United Way's PATH Receives THINC! Award

Thursday, June 4, 2015


United Way Fox Cities accepts a THINC! Award for United Way's PATH for Students program. (Left to right: Peter Kelly, Kristine Sack, Holly Keyser, Karen Johnston, Justin Dluqolenski, Nanci Micke, Lois Mischler and Mary Wisnet)

Contributor: Susan Perri, Marketing and Communications Assistant at United Way Fox Cities

Although the month of May was officially "Mental Health Awareness Month", mental health issues are on our minds year-round. Because one in four people experiences mental illness in a given year, improving access to mental health services is one of United Way Fox Cities' top priorities. We've tackled this priority in several ways including investing in mental health counseling and support services that, in 2014, served 5,772 adults and children across the Fox Cities. In addition, United Way Fox Cities' PATH (Providing Access to Healing) for Students has become a leader in the relatively new arena of providing school-based mental health services.

In the past year, United Way Fox Cities' PATH has received numerous accolades for eliminating barriers to care for students such as long waiting lists, limited financial resources, scheduling conflicts and lack of parental support. United Way Fox Cities' PATH received recognition from media across the state including Wisconsin Public Radio and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Other communities as far away as Sioux Falls, South Dakota and government entities including the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction have reached out for information on PATH's structure as they look to start similar programs.

Most recently, during the fourth annual Insight Publications' Technology & Human Innovation Networking Conference (THINC!), United Way Fox Cities was honored to accept an Innovation Award for PATH. United Way's PATH for Students was awarded in the "People" category for providing school-based mental health services for nearly 1,000 students in the Fox Cities since its inception in 2008. Through PATH, more than three-quarters of participating students have reported improved relationships with family and friends, reduced symptoms and increased functioning and generally "feeling better about life." THINC! Judges were impressed by the strategic way United Way Fox Cities set about tackling the issue of teen depression and suicide, and especially, the positive metrics that prove the PATH program is making an important impact in the community. "It's almost open innovation, the way they tackled this community problem," one judge said. "They proved that a long-standing nonprofit organization has the ability to be innovative."