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VNA acknowledged early in it years as a foundation the importance of recognizing mental health as a critical component of overall health. Among the mental health programs VNA supported multiple times is the innovative Building Bridges to North Lawndale (BBNL) program of the Juvenile Protective Association. Under BBNL, children with emotional problems that interfere with their learning or well-being are provided with mental health and support services—onsite at their school—and adults in their lives are informed how to support their social and emotional development. Nearly 1,200 children and youth were served in 2019 via individual therapy, small group therapy, and/or classroom groups, over 90% of teachers reported that JPA had a positive effect on the school environment, and nearly 100% of students reported that they learned better ways of caring for themselves.
In addition, VNA is proud to be a longtime supporter of the Porchlight Counseling Program at Greenlight Family Services. Focused exclusively on assisting college students who are sexually assaulted, it offers no-cost, off-campus counseling by specialized therapists at scattered sites near major area universities. It also offers group counseling sessions, a helpline that facilitates referrals, and education programming to help prevent sexual assault and increase awareness of it. These especially vulnerable clients must oftentimes endure regularly seeing their perpetrator and his/her friends on campus, so counseling must focus both on healing from the trauma and decisions about how/whether they can finish their education. In its most recent grant, this unique program resulted in survivors experiencing significant reductions in the severity of depressed feelings, and reporting brighter outlooks. GCS services not only aid survivors in the immediate, short-term sense—they give them the best chance to ultimately live as independent, happy and well-functioning adults.