Carlisle Companies Inc. has always been active in the communities in which it operates. So when the company relocated its headquarters to Phoenix in 2016, it was important to develop relationships with organizations that aligned with the company’s philanthropic focus areas: mental health, veterans, education and civility. In 2020, Carlisle began a philanthropic relationship with Phoenix Children’s.
“Investing in our communities—whether with our time, energy or money—leads to positive changes that are ultimately good for all of us,” says Carlisle Chairman, President and CEO D. Christian “Chris” Koch.
Arizona's mental health crisis
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. was facing a mental health crisis, and Arizona was one of the hardest-hit states. In fact, the Grand Canyon state is 35th in the nation for mental health, according to Mental Health America, which takes into account the number of people with mental health problems and access to care. The pandemic, of course, only exacerbated the problem.
“As we did our research, the scale of the mental health crisis in our country became clear,” Koch says. “And we were alarmed by the number of people struggling—our family members, employees, veterans and so many more. As a business leader, I was struck by the crisis. As a human being, I was struck by the crisis.”
Still worse, the crisis is not limited to adults.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for Arizona children up to age 14 and the second-leading cause of death for adolescents ages 15 to 19, according to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. On any given day, Phoenix Children’s treats up to 45 patients while they are on a mandatory hold for suicidal ideation or waiting for an opening at an inpatient behavioral health facility. The average age of patients coming in with suicidal ideation is 12, but Phoenix Children’s has treated children as young as 5.
Becoming part of the solution
In 2022, Koch learned about a new project Phoenix Children’s was developing to prevent suicide and suicide attempts among kids and teens, headed by Jared Muenzer, MD, MBA, Physician-in-Chief and Chief Operating Officer of Phoenix Children’s Medical Group.
“It became clear after numerous discussions with Dr. Muenzer that traditional methods for treating mental health issues in children and adolescents were not the most effective and weren’t leading to the best possible outcomes,” Koch says. “It was also clear that the mental health crisis in children and adolescents in Arizona was not improving at the pace needed to match the challenge.”
Phoenix Children’s Suicide Prevention Program will draw on the expertise of Phoenix Children’s behavioral health experts and provide international best practices to patients and families. Thanks to a financial commitment from Carlisle, the pilot program will launch this year with a goal of reducing childhood deaths by suicide and suicide attempts through the use of strategic preventive tools and targeted parental education. The program also includes a dedicated specialist to work with families and social workers to help ensure children with suicidal ideation return to a safe home after being released from the hospital and then continue to receive expert ongoing care.
- “We are proud to be part of the Phoenix Children’s community of contributors. Mental health solutions are important to us, and we hope to help drive change.”Chris KochPresident and CEO of Carlisle Company
The hope is that the Suicide Prevention Program will have a significant effect on families in crisis and will then be used as a model for other programs across Arizona and even nationally so more communities can benefit from innovative, lifesaving mental health care.
Koch and his wife, Amy, have been particularly moved by the mental health crisis and impressed with Dr. Muenzer and the progress of the program—so moved that, in addition to Carlisle’s investment, the Kochs, who are longtime Phoenix Children’s supporters, decided to contribute personally to the project.
“We are proud to be part of the Phoenix Children’s community of contributors,” Koch says. “Mental health solutions are important to us, and we hope to help drive change.”