Beyond Barriers – Mental Health Care

Beyond Barriers – Mental Health Care


Lisa Harris, M.D., CEO of Eskenazi Health, often says, “there is no health without mental health.” Psychological stress and trauma of the pandemic combined with provider shortages have left our community in dire need of immediate help. The Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center serves more state-supported patients in Marion County than any other mental health center. However, current capacity limits those served to 16,000 people per year.

This campaign will sustain recruitment of mental health providers, upgrade and expand mental health facilities, and expand the John & Kathy Ackerman Mental Health Professional Development Center.

Eskenazi Health is always seeking new and innovative ways to care for people in our community. By expanding access and increasing available service hours to meet a growing demand, recruiting and retaining specialists while building an internal pipeline of master’s-prepared therapists, and upgrading facilities to treat more patients, Eskenazi Health can improve mental health services to address the current crisis.

Ackerman Center

“Mental health professionals are in high demand to meet increasing needs for mental health treatment and services. The John & Kathy Ackerman Professional Development Center is demonstrating our commitment to workforce development and creating pathways and gainful employment opportunities for future leaders in this field,” said Ashley Overley, M.D.

One way the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center is moving beyond the mental health care barrier in Indiana by way of the John & Kathy Ackerman Mental Health Professional Development Center (Ackerman Center). The goal of the Ackerman Center is to address the mental health-related aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the significant mental health workforce shortage by building a strong and robust pipeline of well-trained and diverse mental health workers capable of meeting our community members’ increasing and urgent demands for mental health and substance use care.

Step One – Recruiting new mental health care professionals. The Ackerman Center provides a comprehensive workforce development plan for all disciplines of mental health care.

Step Two – Supporting the ongoing development of a highly skilled workforce. The Center provides several programs and initiatives including development pathways for care coordinators, master’s level clinicians and peer support specialists, adults who have had past experiences with mental health or substance use disorder who use their lived experiences to help others.

Step Three – Providing high quality clinical training experiences with the community mental health center setting. Academic and clinical partners support each pathway, ultimately preparing trainees to be competent in both mental health and addiction services.

This program breaks new ground in mental health care. The Ackerman Center aims to move beyond the current mental health care barriers and create a safer and healthier future for all in Central Indiana by equipping health care professionals with the necessary tools, experience and training. 

Eighty percent of our health is shaped by Social Determinants of Health. Thinking another way,  traditionally delivered medical care contributes only 20% to reducing premature death. To radically transform outcomes, Eskenazi Health must integrate medical care with social care. The Beyond Barriers Campaign represents a deliberate decision to focus philanthropy at the point of greatest opportunity.



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