The Quell Foundation seeks to reduce number of suicides, overdoses, and incarcerations of people living with a mental illness. The Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization, which spent some time in Connecticut in 2018, continues to impact lives across the country, raising over one million dollars last year toward their mission to remove the stigma of mental health and to fund the next generation of mental health care professionals.
The Foundation came to the Wadsworth Atheneum in May to show a new documentary, Lift the Mask, which featured the first-person stories of individuals impacted by suicide. Among those featured in the film was a Vice President at Aetna and a recent college graduate from Middletown. It was the first time the documentary was shown outside a college campus. It was also shown at the University of Connecticut in September.
Following the film’s showing in Hartford, a panel discussion was held before a packed auditorium, featuring both the Aetna executive and the former Middletown resident and her parents, who movingly told the story of their brother/son’s suicide.
“The generous support of our sponsors and individual donors is overwhelming,” said The Quell Foundation CEO, Kevin Lynch. “This outstanding growth comes to us at a pivotal time for mental health in America and our journey as an organization. We are deeply grateful and look forward to continuing our work in the years to come.” Lynch’s wife, Karen, is Executive Vice President of CVS Health and was recently named President of the Aetna Business Unit following the company’s merger.
The Foundation awards scholarships to students living with the challenges that come with having a mental health diagnosis, students who have endured the loss of a parent or sibling to suicide, and to students pursuing a career in the mental health field. Lynch and his team have distributed over $835,000 to young adults representing forty states and 118 colleges across the country since the Foundation’s establishment in 2015.
“The scholarship program is one of the most important tools we have in normalizing the conversation around mental health while also addressing the dearth of mental health providers,” said Lynch. “We are developing a pipeline of professionals to offset the aging population and high-demand of mental health care providers we have in this country.”
The Quell Foundation works to reduce the number of suicides, overdoses, and incarcerations of people with mental illness by encouraging people to share their story, increasing access to mental health services, and supporting first responders in recognizing the mental health warning signs among their own.
“The Quell Foundation’s Bridge the Gap award to students pursuing degrees in the mental health care field are most strongly facilitated through The Quell Foundation’s long-term partnerships,” said Renee Wilk, Executive Director of The Quell Foundation. “We invest in their students and the unique, mental health, degree-awarding programs offered at these institutions to promote and sustain workforce development in this critical space.”
The Quell Foundation is currently accepting applications for the 2019-2020 scholarship cycle.