Mental health awareness has become more important to people everywhere in recent years. The isolation that resulted from stay-at-home orders during the COVID pandemic only exacerbated these needs. For those in Kent County and beyond, Arbor Circle
can help with mental wellness needs.
A $100,000 Steelcase Foundation
grant will support a two-year Arbor Circle project focused on mental health support for children and families.
Courtesy of the Steelcase website
Arbor Circle Development Director Taylor Greenfield expressed a great deal of optimism upon discussion of the award.
Courtesy of Taylor Greenfield
“How you quantify our kind of work is sometimes a challenge for funders, and you know Steelcase was so generous and conversational and allowed us to explore some unique things that otherwise we would not have the ability to do,” says Greenfield.
Arbor Circle is a West Michigan-based organization that largely serves Grand Rapids and Kent County but has locations in four other counties, namely Ottawa, Muskegon, Allegan and Newaygo. Their focus is threefold — mental health counseling, substance use treatment and family development support. Services vary from traditional in-office therapy to in-home treatment. The Steelcase Foundation grant will help grow Arbor Circle’s mental health counseling, hopefully leading to healthier and happier Michiganders.
“When mental health and wellness are impacted, everything is impacted. On the flip side, when mental health and wellness are going well, or you have the tools that you need, other things in your life are also impacted by that in a positive way,” says Greenfield.
The Steelcase Foundation’s funds will be allocated to improving programming throughout Grand Rapids. Instead of focusing on the standard model of people coming into an office to receive counseling, Arbor Circle will now be able to offer more community-based and home-based care.
“This grant is so meaningful, because it's really an enhancement to services that we have been providing for a long timeThe grant will essentially fund accessibility — bringing Arbor Circle into people’s homes and schools, bringing mental health counseling to places where people feel most comfortable, reducing barriers to services” says Greenfield.
Courtesy of Arbor Circle
Increased access like this will make all of the difference for Arbor Circle’s community, especially with a majority of the people they serve being under the federal poverty line. According to the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions department
and the 2023 ALICE report,
2021 showed between 12 and 38 percent of Michigan’s population to be below the poverty line. Stress on intersectional identities such as socioeconomic status, race, gender etc. only serve to worsen mental strife. Arbor Circle’s ability to reach more people where they are because of this grant will allow for greater distribution of mental health assistance and work to lessen the strain a predicted economic recession would cause.
Expanded mental health care accessibility is not the end of the grant’s reach.
“The support for our staff that [the grant] will provide is also worthy of note. Our staff are the people who are providing the services, so funds like these in support of our staff is just a tremendous boost for us,” says Greenfield.
According to the 2021 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
, fewer than half of the people experiencing a mental illness were able to access timely care, and a mental health care professional shortage adds to the problem. Anxiety and depression increased 25%
globally during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[This grant] also provides conversation. Often the work that we do is very quiet. It's a conversation between one person and another, and that ends up with someone potentially making a change in their life. That (life change) is a positive thing, but that is not loud and boisterous. This grant is kind of an opportunity that allows us to celebrate that work in a different way,” says Greenfield.
Those who are interested in learning more about Arbor Circle or their services, may visit their website
For those interested in volunteering with Arbor Circle, opportunities can be found here
Ashley King is a born and raised Michigander. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Duke Fuqua School of Business. Ashley loves a good book, free time to paint and all things to do with Black Women.
Enjoy this story? Sign up
for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.