The Cause

The Cause

Rialzo XII


Funds raised at Rialzo helped youth mental and physical health through Meridian’s partnership with local community schools to provide and expand services for children and adolescents in need through Meridian’s School-Based Health Clinics.

This came at a time when our children need us most as the nation faces a youth mental health crisis. Mental health has a complex integrated relationship with a child’s physical health and their ability to succeed in school, at work, and in society. The Centers for Disease Control found that not only is suicide the third-leading cause of death for youth ages 15-19, but one in four adolescents ages 12-17 have had a substance use disorder or a major depressive episode. Moreover, according to Mental Health America, 56 percent of Indiana’s youth with a major depressive episode did not receive mental health services in the past year.

In a recent national survey, school teachers and superintendents reported that youth mental health was the most pressing issue facing schools and students today, and the services for this are in desperate need. Poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical health conditions too – highlighting the importance of providing integrated physical and mental health. Meridian understands and specializes in whole-person health integration of the mind, body, and social well-being to achieve optimal health. To help meet the great need of this for our youth and the schools, Meridian has been providing behavioral health services for years to now over 345 schools throughout Indiana. Recently, Meridian spearheaded a new concept of creating an on-site school-based clinic that would offer both primary medical care and behavioral health to help broaden access to much-needed services for students, teachers, families, and the community at-large.

In 2020, Meridian opened its first school-based health clinic at Southside Middle School in Muncie to help the school fulfill the need of expanded behavioral health services and primary medical care on-site to help relieve school nursing and offer a whole-person approach to health care for students. The demand and success have been great, resulting now in many other schools wanting a Meridian School-Based Health Clinic on-site at their school.

Rialzo funds were raised to help expand these new services as this is happening now with many more clinics opening by Meridian this school year including other nearby school systems in Richmond, Anderson, Union, Portland, and Frankfort. The concept is growing rapidly as the need is too. “Meridian is making a difference by providing safe and easy-to-access locations in schools for children to receive a broad spectrum of whole-person health services that they may otherwise not have access to,” shared Lisa Suttle, Meridian’s Regional Vice President of Clinical Services. “We’ve seen many children come to us with a physical need that is also experiencing a mental health concern. With our presence in schools, we can quickly address these issues with our integrated health services.”

Our Alice in Wonderland theme is symbolic of the many changes and trials children face. Often, growing up feels like you are traveling down a rabbit hole that is dark and filled with mystery at every corner as you navigate life. For some, the rabbit hole may include issues at home, bullies, inadequate access to health care, and more that leave a child desperately seeking “Wonderland.” Luckily, just like Alice had the white rabbit and the Mad Hatter – Meridian Health is there to help navigate children to a place where “Nothing’s Impossible!” by offering physical, behavioral, and socially well services.

In addition to school nursing services provided to students, this partnership now provides expanded primary medical care, behavioral and social healthcare services to students, teachers, and their families. Learn more about Meridian’s School-Based Health Clinics.