The Irsay family. (photo courtesy: Indianapolis Colts)

The family of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is partnering with Riley Children’s Health to expand access to mental health services for Indiana’s children and adolescents. The family is donating $650,000 towards the Indiana Behavioral Health Access Program for Youth.

The “Be Happy” effort provides support to clinicians to help with diagnostic clarification, medication management, treatment planning or other child mental health questions.

Riley – in partnership with the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry – will expand the program to offer both psychiatric assessments and therapy for children and teens for whom there are no resources available in their community.

According to Riley, 766 children and teenagers came to the Riley Emergency Department in 2020 requiring behavioral health evaluation. Last year, the number jumped by nearly 500 more.

“Indiana children and adolescents are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, and the pandemic has pushed our state into a crisis situation,” said Dr. Leslie Hulvershorn, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Riley Children’s Health. “The expansion of this program will provide a lifeline to children and families facing behavioral health emergencies. We are incredibly grateful to the Irsays and the Colts for championing this cause.”

The gift is part of the Irsay’s initiative “Kicking the Stigma” that the family launched in 2020. The campaign intends to raise awareness about mental health disorders and remove the stigma often associated with the illnesses.