16:23 PM

Helping the helpers: Let’s make sure the mental health community gets the support it needs


Dr. Joy Ippolito, of the American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, spent years as a mental health professional. Now, she works to invest and support organizations who connect people with mental health services. During Mental Health Awareness Month, she shares her call to action for people to thank mental health professionals who have supported countless people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

There has been a lot discussed and debated about our individual and collective mental health over the last 14-plus months. It has led to headlines throughout the pandemic—on the lips of parents and teachers worried about children, co-workers anxious about their frazzled colleagues, and friends concerned about their unreturned calls.

Early on, the United Nations issued a policy brief highlighting that COVID-19, while first and foremost a physical health crisis, could also morph into a mental health crisis if appropriate actions were not taken. Among their top three recommendations was ensuring “widespread availability of emergency mental health and psychosocial support”. While few would disagree that it needs to be a priority, we haven’t always stopped to consider the people resources needed for such a response and the asks we continuously make of them. We have not taken the time necessary to think about who is supporting those who help support our mental health.

A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, noted that 4 in 10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 1 in 10 adults in the first six months of 2019. Even more concerning, this number jumped to 56% for young adults ages 18 to 24, with increased reports of substance use and suicidal thinking. And, there has been a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx communities, which already had difficulties pre-pandemic in accessing mental health services.

Behind each of these headlines though are the unsung heroes we haven’t talked about very much during this pandemic. When we speak of the frontline workers, the images we see are of the doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff who have been working to save countless lives or, in the final moments, hold the hands of those they cannot. They sacrificed their families, staying in hotels and not hugging their children, afraid of bringing the pandemic home. We have thanked them with free meals, window signs, car parades, Super Bowl tickets, and countless other ways. They deserve all the praise they have received and so much more.


Read more about Dr. Ippolito's call to action to acknowledge mental health professionals on the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact's website.


About the American Family Insurance group
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 254 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, The General, Homesite and Main Street America. Across these companies the group has more than 13,500 employees nationwide.


About the American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact
The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact is a venture capital firm and partner of choice for exceptional entrepreneurs who are building scalable, sustainable businesses in a long-term effort to close equity gaps in America. It also recognizes that capacity building and supporting organizations and experts that have been working toward social causes are equally important in making a positive impact within our communities around the country.

The Institute invests in visionary entrepreneurs who are building scalable social enterprises in the following areas: economic opportunity for all, healthy youth development, learning and academic achievement, and resilient communities.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute worked to provide mental health services to nearly 10,000 Wisconsin community members through its portfolio companyX2AI.