The New Orleans Mental Health Collaborative (MHC) was created to identify and fill gaps in mental health care in the city. The initiative was launched during a special City Council session on mental and behavioral health convened by New Orleans City Councilmember Joe Giarrusso on Sept. 15, 2022.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic, major natural disasters, economic insecurity, and pervasive community violence, it’s no surprise that the mental health crisis in New Orleans has only worsened in recent years.
Our city’s expert mental health providers have worked tirelessly to support as many residents as possible and improve outcomes. And the New Orleans Community Health Improvement Plan, New Orleans Youth Master Plan, and other research outline needs and strategies to improve behavioral health outcomes city-wide. But to create systemic change, we need alignment and funding.
The MHC is a group of health care providers, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and businesses committed to addressing the mental and behavioral health crisis for children, youth, and adults in New Orleans. United Way of Southeast Louisiana is serving as the backbone organization for the collaborative to guide partners, source funding, develop shared goals and strategies, and drive policy change.
Co-Chair: Joseph I. Giarrusso III, New Orleans City Councilmember
Co-Chair: Dr. Rochelle Head-Dunham, Executive and Medical Director, Metropolitan Human Services District
Dr. Jennifer Avegno, New Orleans Health Department
Lisa Gentry, LMSW, MPH, Ochsner Health
Dr. Darvelle Hutchins, New Orleans Saints & New Orleans Pelicans
Dr. Julie Kaplow, Trauma & Grief Center
Dr. Brandi Kelly, Louisiana Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities
David Kulick, MPH, The Focus Group
Ron McClain, LCSW, JD, Institute of Mental Hygiene
Kristian Mollow, New Orleans East Hospital
Dr. Myo Thwin Myint, Tulane University School of Medicine, Children’s Hospital New Orleans Behavioral Health, and Crescent Care
Mayra Pineda, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana
Dr. Torin T. Sanders, LCSW, The Sixth Baptist Church and Southern University at New Orleans
Dr. Denese Shervington, MPH, Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies
Dr. Avis Williams, NOLA Public Schools
Michael Williamson, United Way of Southeast Louisiana
Mary Ambrose, United Way of Southeast Louisiana
Christopher Belser, University of New Orleans
Amy Bosworth, OHL
Lucy Cordts, CrescentCare
Sherrard Crespo, VIA LINK
Charlotte Cunliffe, Children's Bureau of New Orleans
Madeline Davet, NOHSEP/NOLA Ready
Ayame Dinkler, LCMC Health
LaVondra Dobbs, VIA LINK
Karen Evans, New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board (CYPB)
Elizabeth Garland, Start Corporation
Daniela Gilbert, Vera Institute of Justice
Judge Calvin Johnson
Melisse Meza, United Way of Southeast Louisiana
Amanda Schroeder, Communities In Schools of the Gulf South
Victoria Schwandt, VIA LINK
Gyl Switzer, NAMI
Gordon Wadge, YMCA of Greater New Orleans
Liz Marcell Williams
Priscilla Williams, Goodwill Industries of SELA
Join & Donate
Please email Melisse Meza, United Way SELA VP of Health and Fund Distribution at MelisseM@UnitedWaySELA.org for information on joining and/or donating to the MHC.
Mental health issues and lack of access to care affect New Orleans residents of all ages.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children ages 10-14 in our area. (New Orleans Health Department)
- The city’s leading federally qualified health center has nine-month waits for individual therapy and six-week waits for psychiatric care. (NOLA.com)
- New Orleans is considered a mental “health provider shortage area (HPSA)” due to the fact that there are one or fewer mental health providers for every 30,000 people. (Louisiana Department of Health)
- 85% of New Orleans Public Schools reported that over 25% of their students have behavioral health needs, and 62% reported that they do not have resources to meet these needs. (Safe Schools NOLA)
- An estimated 23,000 adults in New Orleans had a major depressive episode in the past year. (New Orleans Health Department)