The Andrew Jergens Foundation has granted
$20,000 to the UC Department of Family Medicine and Cincinnati's
Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), a local homeless family shelter.
The grant is supporting a new project designed to improve the mental
health and quality of life for approximately 100 homeless adolescents
who are staying at IHN with their parents.
IHN provides food, lodging and a variety
of other crucial support services to Cincinnati's homeless families.
Its main goal is to help them find and maintain housing. IHN is one of
only two family shelters that admits adult male parents and/or boys
The Jergens project is being administered
by Bob Moore, IHN's executive director. Two UC family doctors,
Professor Susan Montauk, MD, and Associate Professor Jerry Friemoth,
MD, are providing group and individual mental health treatment to IHN's
adolescents. Lawson Wulsin, MD, professor, UC Departments of Psychiatry
and Family Medicine, is a consultant to the project.
The program is unique because it is
taking place on-site (at IHN) in an environment to which the teens are
accustomed, it has no waiting list, and it is providing free
medication. The program offers both supportive therapy and treatment
for depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
In a typical year there are approximately
25,000 homeless persons in the Cincinnati area, and there is an
ever-increasing number of homeless families. Surprisingly, a third of
Cincinnati's homeless are young people. About two-thirds of these are
pre-teens; one-third are teenagers.
"Young people are most vulnerable to the
stresses of homelessness, resulting in problems in school, social life,
and family life," said Moore. "In addition, the stress of being
homeless can cause children to become severely depressed and lose self
esteem. The generosity of the Jergens Foundation is helping our
homeless adolescents with mental illness to live healthier lives."
This pilot project will serve as a model
that can be duplicated by other local, state and national family
shelters. This will significantly expand the number of teens helped as
a result of the charitable support from the Jergens Foundation.
"Homeless families' fears and
frustrations, and their need for shelter, jobs and healthcare, can be
so overwhelming that the needs of adolescents suddenly get deeply
buried," said Dr. Montauk. "Yet without parental guidance and emotional
support, many teens turn to alcohol and drugs. Worse still, the suicide
rate among homeless teens is alarmingly high.
"Fortunately, here in Cincinnati we have
institutions such as the Jergens Foundation which recognize that
intervention at this key time can go a long way to improving the lives
of homeless teens."