Press Releases

National Award Spurs Partnership to Address Mental Health in North Omaha

Published: Nov. 20, 2019

In response to the growing need for mental health services in north Omaha, Methodist Health System is partnering with several local organizations in a first-of-its-kind effort aimed at improving community health.

Omaha was one of 18 communities chosen this year for The BUILD Health Challenge®, a unique national program focusing on bold, upstream, integrated, local and data-driven projects that tackle the root causes of disease and promote prevention. As Nebraska’s first and only BUILD® award recipient, Heartland Family Service (HFS) and its project partners will address social determinants of health contributing to mental health disparities in northeast Omaha’s 68111 ZIP code. Omaha was chosen in part because of the unique makeup of its participating community partners, which also include the Douglas County Health Department, Nebraska Medicine, CHI Health, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Live Well Omaha, UNMC College of Public Health, Charles Drew Health Center and Holy Name Housing Corporation. 

Why focus on the 68111 area? It has:

  • A median household income of $26,284 – compared with the citywide median of $56,406 – with 54% of children living under the poverty line (American Community Survey 2017)
  • A perception by 61.9% of residents that the neighborhood is “slightly” or “not at all” safe (Community Health Needs Assessment 2018)
  • The disturbing distinction of being “the most dangerous place in the United States to be an African-American,” according to the Violence Policy Center (2014)


The BUILD Health Challenge® award is $250,000 over two-and-a-half years, with equal match contributions by Methodist and the three other health systems, bringing the total to $500,000. The award also provides capacity-building support and access to a national peer learning network to enhance collaborative partnerships aimed at addressing the community’s most pressing health challenges.

By using the Self-Healing Communities Model (SHCM), BUILD® partners seek to empower residents through meaningful engagement, offering appropriately matched resources to a more equipped, emboldened community. Other features of the SHCM model include:

  • Neighborhood grassroots leaders who make important decisions and control resources to best improve their community to help residents’ mental health
  • Resident councils that hold listening sessions and summits with residents to identify areas of focus and drive the work

Ultimately, the goal is to replicate this approach elsewhere in the community.

By strengthening partnerships between community-based organizations, health systems and others, the BUILD Health Challenge® aims to drive sustainable improvements in community health. To date, partners have invested more than $20 million to support 55 partnerships across the country for projects that include efforts to combat food insecurity, develop “health hubs” in communities, interrupt patterns of incarceration and addiction, and promote organizational policies and practices that support breastfeeding in communities and among families.

About the BUILD Health Challenge® 

The BUILD Health Challenge® is made possible with the support of: BlueCross and BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, Communities Foundation of Texas, de Beaumont Foundation, Episcopal Health Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc., New Jersey Health Initiatives, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Special thanks to the BUILD Health Challenge® for its support of this initiative. Learn more at