Q&A with Harsh K. Trivedi

Harsh K. Trivedi, MD, MBA

Harsh K. Trivedi, MD, MBA, Sheppard Pratt’s sixth president and chief executive officer, joined the BCF Board of Trustees in 2020. Dr. Trivedi is a board-certified psychiatrist and a child and  adolescent psychiatrist who is passionate about promoting greater equity in mental and behavioral health care. In February 2021, BCF’s CEO Shanaysha Sauls hosted a conversation with Dr. Trivedi and BCF grantee K.E.Y.S. Empowers for a donor update focused on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and the community foundation’s response. The following is a condensed version of the conversation (you can view the full remarks of the speakers on our website at www.bcf.org/DonorUpdate).

We know we are in a mental health crisis.
How do we engage in conversation about mental health?

Start by actively listening. Ask how someone’s day is going, and then give them the opportunity to speak. Provide reflections that indicate you are listening such as “that must be hard for you.” When we don’t know what to say, oftentimes we say nothing. But we all have the skills to have empathetic conversations. And remember, it’s okay to not be okay. In every room I enter, someone will tell me about a mental health challenge in their family. There is not a single person out there that doesn’t know someone affected by COVID or its mental health effects. I believe that, as a result of this pandemic, there will be a shift with how we discuss mental health and the impact it has on our overall health. My hope is that we can bring these conversations out of the darkness and develop a greater acceptance to receiving care for mental and behavioral health issues.

How is the pandemic affecting the mental health of children?

Virtual learning has been incredibly isolating for our children. Just as important as the academic instruction, being able to go to a classroom provides social and emotional interaction, along with opportunities to play with friends and share experiences. Children are missing those experiences, and concurrently, a lot of new COVID-related stressors have entered their lives. What if you came from a household where you rely on that breakfast or lunch you would get at school? What if you live in a home where there is domestic violence, and going to school was a safe haven that no longer exists?  You may not be able to speak with a safe adult because you are on a screen at home where everyone is watching. Because of these factors, we are seeing more referrals for children who are struggling.

What are some practical steps we can take to improve mental health in our community?

Before COVID happened, we already had the highest suicide rates in the last 30 years, and we were facing an out-of-control opioid epidemic. When COVID arrived, a lot of people could no longer see their care providers in person. Additionally, depression and substance abuse are impacting communities of color at a greater rate due to the lack of access to care providers. For many, their mental health issues are compounded by the additional stressors related to insecure housing and food access. There are things we can do “upstream” to improve mental health and promote increased access to quality care. We need to keep people in stable housing, provide families with food and necessities, and continue our advocacy for digital equity. COVID has made telehealth an imperative, but we know that there is a digital divide in our community. We need more BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] mental health professionals who identify with and understand the experiences of those we wish to help. If we want to support the most vulnerable communities then we have to address this digital divide so the people who need our support can access it when they need to.

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Proposals due on Wed., July 9, 2021

Building Stronger Neighborhoods Regionwide

Building Stronger Neighborhoods Regionwide

We have a nearly 30-year history of offering grants to resident-led groups and community projects in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. These grants give residents the resources they need to accomplish a small project, get more people involved, and encourage the next generation of neighborhood leaders. We also fund programs that support the development of leaders of all ages who are working to improve their neighborhoods and schools. Our support is intended to help identify, activate, inform and network leaders. And finally, we believe when schools and neighborhoods team up to improve their school and community, meaningful and lasting change can be made. We are interested in funding proposals in which the students and adults in schools collaborate intentionally with community residents, neighborhood associations, and other individuals, groups, and institutions in the area surrounding a school.

School Leadership

School Leadership

We believe that attracting and retaining effective and diverse school leaders is a key lever for change in Baltimore's educational landscape, and so we fund school leadership development efforts at the district and individual school level. We are interested in funding proposals that focus on principal coaching, mentoring, peer networking, wellness/self-care, as well as pipelines that identify and develop new leaders. We will also continue to support efforts that build a culture of appreciation and encouragement for school leaders.

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Place-based Grantmaking in Selected School Communities

Place-based Grantmaking in Selected School Communities

We have allocated funds for two geographical areas that bookend a crucial corridor on the Westside of Baltimore City: Howard Park /Forest Park area (served by Calvin Rodwell Elementary Middle School and Liberty Elementary), and Reservoir Hill/Penn North area (served by Dorothy I Height Elementary). In these three schools and their surrounding neighborhoods, we will support projects and activities designed to make the communities safe, clean, green and vibrant; and improve the quality of the schools. Some projects may be neighborhood-focused, some school-focused and others collaborative projects between the schools and their respective communities.

Early Learning & Judy Centers

Early Learning & Judy Centers

High quality early childhood education has a lifelong effect on students. Through our Early Learning grant program, we are interested in system-wide early childhood education proposals that will help Baltimore City and County's youngest learners, and their families, get the start they need. Nonprofit organizations that offer programs and/or services to Judy Centers are encouraged to contact the centers directly to explore partnership opportunities.

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Director of Planned Gifts
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Cathy Brill

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