Mental Health Initiative

2010-2012 Grant Awards

New York-Presbyterian Hospital: Barbara Jonas Psychiatric Hospitalist
The Barbara Jonas Psychiatric Hospitalist was established at New York-Presbyterian Hospital to provide mental health care for inpatients admitted for medical and surgical conditions. The position is named for Barbara Jonas, a longtime mental health advocate, former practicing psychotherapist and supporter of arts and education. Mrs. Jonas, with her husband Donald, gave $500,000 to honor Hospital President and CEO Dr. Herbert Pardes’ longtime commitment to addressing mental health and behavioral issues in medicine. Patients receiving treatment in a hospital for a medical illness frequently also have psychiatric disorders or acute behavioral problems, which complicates treatment and may lengthen hospital stay and recovery Research has shown that hospitalists can improve quality of care and patient satisfaction and reduce length of stays. Dr. Anne Skomorowsky, a psychiatrist with specialized training in working with hospital inpatients, has been selected as the first Barbara Jonas Psychiatric Hospitalist. In this role, she will provide mental health care for inpatients admitted for a non-psychiatric condition at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and will facilitate treatment by social workers or psychiatrists as needed. Data will be collected on how the introduction of the psychiatric hospitalist improves patient care, length of stay and recovery. The position will demonstrate the effectiveness of the psychiatric hospitalist in addressing patient needs and encourage academic medical centers to adopt the innovative approach.

2008 Grant Awards

Turnaround for Children
Turnaround for Children is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a healthy social, emotional, and academic environment that supports the development of children. Turnaround uses a comprehensive approach that removes barriers to learning, provides connections to caring adults, and breaks destructive cycles while giving children the tools and support they need to succeed. Turnaround will seek to build the effectiveness of their mental health work in high-need public schools through the recruitment and retention of an experienced mental health leader who will serve as the new Jonas Family Vice President, Mental Health Programs. The Vice President will focus on improving access to mental health services in the high-need schools served by Turnaround. Specifically, the vice president will develop and manage mobile mental health units working in Turnaround schools and engage with public mental health agencies to promote this work more broadly.

2007 Grant Awards

Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital: Jonas Family Intervention Program
The Jonas Family Intervention program supports the delivery of family based, culturally competent services to low-income immigrant families at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian. The program will fund a bi-lingual (English/Spanish) therapist—the Barbara Jonas Therapist—to expand services and deliver supportive therapy to depressed parents of suicidal children in order to stabilize the family and allow for treatment of the children to work. With Jonas family support, 30 additional families will be served (or approximately 150 people). This Intervention provides both intensive in-home and hospital-based clinical services (psychology, social work and psychiatry) to young people and their families presenting to the Emergency Department in psychiatric crisis. Data will also be collected to demonstrate the efficacy of this model intervention.

The treatment provided to parents of children and adolescents with suicidal behaviors is a non-traditional model of psychotherapy tailored to the needs of the population served. This involves outreach to community agencies for parent education, social service contacts (e.g. Medicaid, housing, legal services, court systems and continuing education, etc). The frequency of treatment is based on individual needs. Some patients attend weekly sessions while others have been seen up to four times per week. The model is flexible and supportive in nature, which facilitates the therapeutic alliance and allows for improvement in symptoms. In addition to the concrete services, a dynamic and cognitive behavioral approach to treatment is implemented. Patients also have access to their clinician via pager, in the event of emergencies.

NARSAD: Two Barbara Jonas Investigators
Cristiane S. Duarte, Ph.D., of Columbia University (YI 2006), aims to study the interaction of depression and obesity in children and adolescents. In the proposed project, Dr. Duarte will examine how depression and obesity occur together in childhood or young adult life, and will consider the role of gender, age, comorbid psychiatric disorders, eating habits, treatment, family history of depression, pharmacological treatment and physical activity. She also is interested in understanding if being obese or depressed for a longer time as a child makes a person more likely to be either depressed or obese, as a child or later in life. Dr. Duarte will use data from two sources: the NIMH-funded Methods for Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders and the Finnish Boy to Man Study. Examining shared and unique determinants linking depression and obesity will inform prevention and treatment of both disorders.

Benjamin I. Goldstein, MD, PhD., of University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will examine the effectiveness of family-focused treatment for adolescents suffering from both bi-polar disorder and substance use disorder. Youth with these co-occurring problems suffer greatly, as do their families, and very little research has been conducted to inform development of treatments that target their specific needs. Ultimately, the hope is to yield strategies for preventing substance use disorders in this population. Research takes place in the clinical research program in pediatric bipolar disorder at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Columbia University Teen Screen
Mental health screening is an accurate way to identify risk factors for suicide. Yet, very few youth are identified for help. Like hearing and vision screenings, which are routinely provided to children, screening for mental health issues identifies potential problems that can be confirmed upon further evaluation by a health professional. Most teens who participate in TeenScreen are not depressed or suicidal. For some parents, however, discussing the screening results with a health professional is the first time they learn their teen is experiencing any mental health issues, is thinking about suicide or even made a prior suicide attempt. In these cases, screening provides a necessary and much welcomed opportunity for parents to help their children, and maybe even save their lives.

The TeenScreen Program works by creating partnerships with communities across the nation to implement local screening programs for youth. The majority of local TeenScreen programs are located in middle and high schools and some programs operate in doctors’ offices, clinics, or other places where children gather. The TeenScreen Program is offered in more than 450 locations in 43 states. 


**Please note all grant programs provided by the Jonas Family Fund Mental Health Initiative are by invitation only. Please do not submit unsolicited grant proposals.