St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild Donates $1 Million to Behavioral Health Academy

Indianapolis, April 14, 2022 – Eskenazi Health Foundation recently announced a $1 million gift from St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild which will directly support the Behavioral Health Academy (BHA), a partnership between Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center and local universities. The BHA aims to increase the number of dual-licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) and clinical addictions counselors (LCAC) in Central Indiana by attracting high-quality Master of Social Work (MSW) student candidates and offering an enhanced practicum experience for the second and final year of the MSW practicum.

“A cherished partner of Eskenazi Health for more than a century, the generosity of St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild and its’ benefit to our patients over the years has been immeasurable,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, CEO of Eskenazi Health. “This gift, enabling us to expand our behavioral health workforce, follows St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild’s tradition of giving straight to what our patients and community need most and giving it their all to make a true difference.”

Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center is Indiana’s first community mental health center and offers strengths-based and family- and community-centered inpatient and outpatient programs that use the Recovery Model of treatment for emotional and behavioral problems, including substance abuse. Care is provided through inpatient services and in more than 450,000 outpatient visits each year. Services are available at eight Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center sites and residential facilities throughout Indianapolis. Mental health services are also available at Eskenazi Health Center primary care locations.

“The need for quality mental health care has never been greater, particularly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this incredibly generous gift from our friends with the St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild will help many individuals facing difficult challenges,” said Ernie Vargo, president and CEO of Eskenazi Health Foundation. “This significant contribution supporting the outstanding work of Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center will have a positive impact on those in need.”

The BHA helps prepare its students to meet requirements for both clinical licenses through the completion of 700 practicum hours during the internship. BHA students receive a stipend while in the program and can interview for positions upon graduation from their master’s degree program. While in the BHA, they receive six hours of group supervision each month to learn evidence-based practices like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills. Additionally, students receive significant Motivational Interviewing (MI) training resulting in an endorsement in MI.

May 2022 will mark the end of the second year of the BHA at Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, with 17 students graduating after participating in Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center programs including Adult Outpatient, Adult Addictions, Child & Adolescent Services, School-Based Services, Mood, Older Adult Services, Stabilization Treatment and Rehabilitation Services (STARS), Permanent Supportive Housing, Dr. Alan & Diane Breier Prevention and Recovery Center for Early Psychosis, Intensive Adult Outpatient, and primary care teams. A goal for the BHA is to expand the program to other clinical master’s programs (e.g., licensed mental health counselor or licensed marriage and family therapist associate) in the future.

“We have an incredibly talented and dedicated staff helping clients at Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center, and this generous gift will help them provide an even greater level of care to everyone who comes through our doors,” said Ashley Overley, M.D., CEO of Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center and vice president of mental health operations for Eskenazi Health. “We’re grateful for the trust our clients place in us, and thanks to the generosity of the St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild, our staff will continue to provide high quality, recovery-oriented care to our community.”

St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild, a volunteer organization, is committed to raising funds for the services and programs at Eskenazi Health. Founded in 1907, the guild has raised $14 million for Eskenazi Health throughout the years. This year’s St. Margaret’s Hospital Guild’s Decorators’ Show House and Gardens, the group’s largest annual fundraiser, will benefit the BHA. This year’s 61st annual event will take place April 23 – May 8 at 5320 N. Meridian St. Hours are from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with extended hours from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Thursdays. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be sold at the door. To purchase tickets, please visit Current COVID-19 safety protocols and more information can also be found on the website.

Eskenazi Health Foundation was established as a 501(c)(3) in 1985. The Foundation contributes leadership, guidance and philanthropic resources to Eskenazi Health and Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC). Charged with helping Eskenazi Health and HHC reach their full potential, the Foundation funds key health care initiatives and programs through its philanthropic support; educates the community about the impact of philanthropy on the life-changing work of Eskenazi Health and HHC; provides meaningful opportunities for donor engagement; and grows the strategic impact of the Foundation Board. To learn more about the Eskenazi Health Foundation, please visit

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