Herbert Simon Family Foundation and the Pacers Foundation Support Behavioral Health
Indianapolis - The Herbert Simon Family Foundation and the Pacers Foundation today announced they are building on the Simon family’s longstanding support of Riley Children’s Health with a gift to increase the comprehensive care available for Indiana’s children with mental and behavioral health needs.
The joint donation of $650,000 to Riley Children’s Foundation will support the Indiana Behavioral Health Access Program for Youth, or “Be Happy,” which aims to improve access to mental health services for Indiana’s children and adolescents.
“The statistics are clear, our state and country are facing a growing mental health crisis, with significant impact on our young people,” said Steve Simon, director, Herbert Simon Family Foundation and owner, Pacers Sports & Entertainment. “Expanded access to the Be Happy program is critical to help the next generation of Hoosiers to become mentally healthy, regardless of their location throughout the state.”
This gift is the latest from the Simon family to support behavioral health advancements at Riley Children’s Health. In 2016, a $3.8 million donation from the Samerian Foundation went toward building the Simon Skjodt Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit. The unit is devoted to psychiatric care for children, providing necessary, highly specialized surroundings for safety and emotional, mental and physical healing. The Samerian Foundation is named for Cindy Simon Skjodt and Paul Skjodt’s children, Samantha, Erik and Ian.
In 2020, a record 766 children and teenagers came to the Riley Emergency Department and required evaluation from the Riley Behavioral Health Access Center. In 2021, that number jumped to more than 1,260. Through Be Happy, any Indiana healthcare provider who works with children or teens can call a free phone line during business hours to consult with one of Riley’s board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists for help with diagnostic clarification, medication management, treatment planning or other child mental health questions.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Simon family and the Pacers Foundation for this gift,” said Elizabeth Elkas, president and CEO of Riley Children’s Foundation. “Each week, as many as 500 families call Riley seeking outpatient mental health care for a child. Expanding this program is critical to providing quick access to Riley mental health experts and support for Indiana children and families in crisis.”
This gift matches an earlier gift from the Jim Irsay family, owners of the Indianapolis Colts, as a part of Kicking the Stigma, the Irsays’ initiative to raise awareness about mental health disorders and remove the shame and stigma too often associated with these illnesses.
With the Simon and the Irsay gifts, Riley – in partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry – will expand the Be Happy program to offer both psychiatric assessments and therapy for children and teens for whom there are no resources available in their community. Therapy will be available in-person or virtually, allowing the service to be provided to youth statewide.
Prior Simon Family Support
Furthering a legacy of support for Riley Children’s Health, this gift builds upon multiple donations from the Simon family. In 2007, the Simon Family made a gift of $40 million toward the completion of the 10-story Simon Family Tower at Riley Hospital for Children.
About Riley Children’s Foundation
Riley Children’s Foundation is Indiana’s preeminent nonprofit dedicated to funding children’s healthcare and the founding organization that opened Riley Hospital for Children in 1924. Today, Riley Children’s Foundation inspires our communities to invest in world-class pediatric research and care at Riley Children’s Health and Indiana University School of Medicine, and in programs like Camp Riley that support the well-being of kids and families.