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The Foundation of Hope Child and Adolescent Anxiety and Mood Disorders Program (CHAAMP) within the UNC Department of Psychiatry will conduct cutting-edge translational research to advance understanding and treatment of pediatric and adolescent mood and anxiety disorders.

CHAPEL HILL, NC – Child and adolescent mental health has been devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While rates of depression and anxiety, visits to the emergency department, and attempted suicide were on the rise before the pandemic began, those rates have increased at alarming rates since March of 2020. The Foundation of Hope, a non-profit organization based in North Carolina, is committing to provide an impact gift of $1 million to the UNC Department of Psychiatry to create a program that will address the urgent need for adequate treatment for youth experiencing anxiety and mood disorders.

The Foundation of Hope Child and Adolescent Anxiety Mood and Disorders Program (CHAAMP) will be a first-of-its-kind program in North Carolina. CHAAMP will operate within the Department of Psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine to conduct research and clinical trials that will expand the reach and scope of treatment offered to children and their families.

“So many children and adolescents are desperately struggling with mental health issues, and we are acutely aware that they need better care and better solutions to cope in today’s world,” said Shelley Eure Belk, Executive Director of the Foundation of Hope. “We feel it’s critical to invest in research now to help our kids and teens for the future, and we are incredibly excited to help create our new Foundation of Hope CHAAMP program in partnership with the UNC Department of Psychiatry.”

The formation of CHAAMP will begin with the recruitment of a Foundation of Hope Scholar – a clinician-scientist who will build a team of researchers, physicians and clinicians, and facilitate collaboration across UNC’s departments and programs to utilize resources and carry out CHAAMP’s mission.

“With this commitment from the Foundation of Hope, we will take our Department’s outstanding work in this area and build a clinically integrated research program that advances science to increase our understanding of how mood and anxiety disorders impact our youth,” said Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH, the Assad Meymandi Distinguished Professor and Chair of the UNC Department of Psychiatry. “We will conduct National Institutes of Health-funded research studies and clinical trials that will directly benefit our patients and inform future patient care for children and adolescents everywhere.”

While there has historically been a need for increased funding and research for child and adolescent mental health, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an urgent situation. One in six U.S. youth ages 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. Suicide rates are at an all-time high and are the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34. During the pandemic there has been an unprecedented explosion in pediatric mental, emotional, and behavioral conditions, and the demand for mental health services continues to rise dramatically.

“As the pandemic progresses and we see the terrible impact on child and adolescent mental health, it has become clear we need to make this a top priority,” said Meltzer-Brody. “We desperately need people working in this area, or we risk losing this generation. We are incredibly grateful to the FOH for providing the critical funding to begin the CHAAMP program, which will lead to innovative approaches to help improve the mental health of our children and teens.”

The Foundation of Hope has been a dedicated partner of the UNC Department of Psychiatry, supporting its research mission and helping to break the stigma of mental illness. In addition to the Foundation’s commitment of a $1 million impact gift to create CHAAMP, the organization plans to continue providing support as the program grows.

Contact: Carleigh Gabryel,