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For 20 years, Covenant House New Orleans has been a safe haven for at-risk and homeless youth; since Hurricane Katrina, such a haven is needed more than ever.Covenant House and its staff is one of the few organizations dealing with the mental health challenges for young people; AmeriCares has helped support staffing needs for this critically needed service.
“Until you have a healthy community, you’re not going to have healthy children,” says Stacy Horn Koch, executive director of Covenant House New Orleans, when speaking of the acute need for mental health services in the community. “In New Orleans, there are less than 30 psychiatrists practicing, and very few of them are practicing for the low-income community. We chose to do this because it is such a major need. Stress remains pretty constant here.”
Since Covenant House was spared storm damage, they have opened their home to provide space and utilities for several health clinics. In addition to supporting the new primary mental health clinic, AmeriCares is helping support two others now housed at Covenant House, which are operated in collaboration with the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Medicine at Tulane Health Sciences Center. Together, these clinics are providing hundreds of people with health care services they might otherwise not have had.
Still, challenges remain for the team at Covenant House. “Funding is definitely less available in the second year; interest is not as great in helping,” says Ms. Horn Koch. “I think the coverage that the media has given New Orleans has not benefited us and people are concerned about whether or not their money will be put to good use. Also, things don’t move quickly here. There’s still a lot of uncertainty in New Orleans.”