Indianapolis Colts

Colts give gift to Riley Children’s Foundation to help expand mental health services

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Colts are helping expand mental health services with a gift to the Riley Children’s Foundation.

On Tuesday morning the Colts announced they are donating $650,000 to Riley Hospital for Children’s “Be Happy” behavioral health program. It is part of the “Kicking the Stigma” campaign and is an effort to help improve access to mental health services for Indiana’s children and adolescents.

According to physicians and staff at Riley Children’s Health, the need is great. Doctors at Riley Hospital for Children say they get calls from about 500 families every week, needing mental health care for their kids and only have the capacity to help a handful. 

In 2020, Riley Children’s Health saw a record 766 children and teenagers in their emergency department needing to be evaluated by the Riley Behavioral Health Access Center. In 2021, that number jumped to more than 1,260.

Doctors say Indiana is in the bottom 20% of states when it comes to access to child psychiatrists and in the top half of states when it comes to youth suicide rates. The Colts want to help change those stats.

“One very important cause we want to get behind is mental health awareness,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said when launching the “Kicking the Stigma” campaign. 

The Irsay family’s initiative hopes to raise awareness about mental health disorders and to remove the shame and stigma often associated with these illnesses.

Irsay tweeted about Tuesday’s announcement, echoing that the need is great. He said “Tomorrow we will announce a gift to @RileyKids to improve access to mental health services for Indiana’s kids. Physicians/staff at Riley Hospital say the need is great (e.g., each week, as many as 500 families call Riley seeking outpatient mental health care for a child!).”

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