• BANGOR – Northern Light Acadia Hospital has been awarded a five year grant of $125,000 per year from the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. The funding is intended to increase the capacity, confidence, and ability of adult caregivers of school-aged youth to identify mental health needs, and facilitate referrals to care and respond to or de-escalate crisis situations, including suicidal thoughts.
Maine children have the highest rate of diagnosed anxiety in the country and the third highest rate of depression. Nearly 20 percent of middle school aged children experience thoughts of suicide, with rates of suicidal thoughts significantly higher among LGBTQ+ and black, indigenous, and people of color students.

“Northern Light Acadia Hospital is committed to improving the mental health of all Maine people,” says Angela Fileccia, LCSW, director, Healthy Life Resources, Northern Light Acadia Hospital. “It is part of our mission to offer education and prevention services to youth, adults, and caregivers, which is key to improving the mental health of our communities.” She continues, “We all want to ensure Maine’s youth are healthy – physically and mentally. This major SAMHSA grant will assist us to do just that.”

With this grant, Northern Light Acadia Hospital will:

  • Increase the capacity of Acadia personnel to provide both youth and adult Mental Health First Aid to the community.
  • Train adults who care for and work with youth on Mental Health First Aid to identify youth mental health needs, facilitate referrals to care, and respond to or de-escalate crisis situations.
  • Increase adult caregivers’ awareness of their own mental health needs and how to respond to the mental health needs of adults with whom they work.
  • Increase referral pathways for community-based partners to respond to mental health crises and connect community members to mental health resources and services.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to expand Acadia’s ability to improve the mental health of Maine’s youth,” shares Chris McLaughlin, LCSW, Northern Light Acadia Hospital. “Early identification of a mental health condition can help ensure children and adolescents get the care they need. In addition, increasing caregivers’ awareness of signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, and then learning how to intervene, is critical.” The grant funding for this five-year project became available at the end of September.