The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin have announced a $3 million gift from the Kelben Foundation, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit, to establish a Community Mental Health Initiative for children in Milwaukee’s central city.
The funding will also provide support for several mental health professionals who will expand the initiatives of Children’s current health clinics embedded within the COA Goldin Center, Northside YMCA and Next Door Foundation. Additionally, training and education will be provided to staff at the Boys and Girls Club, better equipping them to respond to mental health needs with children in their programs.
“Access to mental health services is as important as access to physical health care specialists, and the intent of this initiative is to improve access for families by providing mental health professionals embedded in the neighborhoods most in need, and also to streamline and simplify the processes involved in seeking mental health services,” said Mary Kellner, who established the Kelben Foundation with her husband, Ted. “Partnering with MCW and with Children’s Hospital and working with community organizations is an important step in establishing better mental wellness in Milwaukee.”
In addition to the Kelben Foundation, the Kellners created the Kellner Chair in Pediatrics at the Medical College. Mary has more than 20 years of counseling experience, and Ted serves on the MCW Board of Trustees and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Board.
“We are profoundly grateful to the Kellner family for their commitment and dedication,” said Peggy Troy, chief executive officer of Children’s Hospital. “We are thrilled to launch this endeavor to provide increased access and appropriate mental health services to children and families. We know psychological distress can have an impact on physical health. The longer children and families wait to receive adequate and appropriate treatment, the more staggering the costs become, both emotionally and physically.”
Dr. John Raymond Sr., president and CEO of MCW, noted, “This impactful and generous gift from the Kellner family not only will help children and families get access to the mental health services they need, but also will raise awareness of the great need for trained mental health professionals in Milwaukee and statewide. We are grateful to the Kellner family for its philanthropy and for the community partnerships this gift will forge as we seek solutions for children and families in need of treatment.”