Local Nonprofits Partner to Offer Scholarships for Students with Mental Health Conditions

HYANNIS – Two organizations are partnering to provide scholarships for high school seniors on Cape Cod who suffer from a mental health condition or have lost a family member to suicide.

The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and The Quell Foundation are making funds available for seniors who have been accepted into a college, university or trade school to pursue a degree in an arts-related field.

Kevin Lynch, the CEO of The Quell Foundation, and Julie Wake, the executive director of the AFCC, both believe the arts have the power to heal, leading to the collaboration.

“Art, whether it is painting, sculpture, music, dance or otherwise, has been known to overwhelmingly contribute to one’s psychological well-being,” Lynch said.

“Art is therapeutic. It’s extremely powerful and restorative qualities are often incorporated in one’s treatment plan and is an effective means for managing and recovering from a mental health illness.

The Quell Foundation, based in North Falmouth, works to reduce the number of suicides, overdoses and incarcerations of people with mental illness.

In 2016, Barnstable County Human Services reported that the suicide rate on the Cape and Islands was 1.4 times higher than the state average. Suicide is also the third leading cause of death in the state for individuals between the ages of 15 and 24.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 28.4 percent increase in drug overdose deaths in the state from 2015 to 2016. There were 150 opioid-related deaths in 2016 in Massachusetts among those between the ages 15 and 24.

The AFCC annually grants money for artistic and cultural initiatives on Cape Cod, several of which support those with a variety of physical disabilities and medical conditions.

“Suicide, substance abuse, and mental health are very serious issues, not only in Massachusetts, but here on Cape Cod,” Wake said.

“It’s imperative the arts play a public role to help deal with these issues, and back the great work that organizations like the Quell Foundation are doing to support people struggling with mental health issues.”

Wake said the scholarships are a step in that direction and shine a light on mental health.

The nonprofits will provide several scholarships up to $1,000 each.

Applicants must have lost a sibling, parent or caregiver to suicide or must be currently living with a diagnosed mental health condition.

Applications are available at www.artsfoundation.org. The deadline to apply is April 30.

Recipients will be notified in late in the spring and will be invited to attend an award luncheon at Gillette Stadium in June.

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