The Coca‑Cola Foundation has awarded a $5 million grant to help Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – the largest and only freestanding pediatric healthcare system in Georgia – lead a community effort to create a behavioral and mental health system of care that will leverage early intervention to improve outcomes, reduce stigma and enhance access to prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
In addition to being one of the largest pediatric clinical care systems in the country, Children’s offers extensive programs and subsidized health services to augment care and improve the health of Georgia’s children. In 2020, approximately 57% of patients were on Medicaid, PeachCare for Kids or unable to cover the cost of their care. In fact, Children’s is the largest Medicaid provider in Georgia, serving eight out of 10 pediatric inpatient Medicaid cases in Atlanta and four out of 10 statewide.
The $5 million grant – the Foundation’s largest-ever non-COVID related grant benefiting an Atlanta-based organization – will support Children’s four stated priorities:
According to UNICEF, one in four young people in the United States between ages 15 and 24 report feeling depressed or having little interest in doing things. UNICEF's 2021 edition of The State of the World’s Children report offers a deep dive into how the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of children, adolescents and caregivers is just the “tip of the iceberg.” The report calls on governments to boost investment in mental health and psychosocial support and urges society to “break the silence” surrounding mental health by addressing stigma and promoting understanding.
Rates of childhood mental health concerns were steadily rising over the past decade, but the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated these challenges.
Since 2000, The Coca‑Cola Company and The Coca‑Cola Foundation have provided more than $7 million in grants to Children’s. The Coca‑Cola Company has provided sponsorship support for numerous events including the Children’s Hope and Will Ball and holiday events, as well as a $1 million donation to support Children’s “One to Grow On” Campaign in 2005.
Additionally, Bea Perez, SVP and Chief Communications, Sustainability and Strategic Partnerships Officer for The Coca‑Cola Company, serves on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Board of Trustees, and Madsbjerg serves on the Children’s Foundation board.