- Morgan Stanley is donating $20 million to seven nonprofits that aim to fight depression in children, prevent youth suicide and bring awareness to kids’ mental health issues in marginalized communities, the bank announced this week.
- In creating the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children's Mental Health, the bank wants to recruit donors to help the seven groups expand their footprints in the U.S., U.K. and Hong Kong.
- The effort comes as a number of financial institutions seek greater visibility for their social stances.
Banks have put increased focus on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals in recent months. Goldman Sachs in December laid out a 10-year plan to commit $750 billion in loans, underwriting, advisory services and investments toward renewable energy, sustainable transportation and affordable education projects.
State Street last month vowed to vote against board members at corporations that continually score poorly on a "responsibility" index. And Citi has pushed for a more diverse presence among its management ranks, launching an awareness campaign regarding the gender pay gap and becoming the first big U.S. bank to reveal raw data on the subject.
And on social matters, JPMorgan Chase expanded its effort to hire employees with criminal records. It also pledged to invest in $25 million over the next five years in a lab geared toward helping the underbanked. More recently, business expense management app Expensify agreed to donate 10% of its swipe fee revenue to fight homelessness, hunger and climate change.
"We are not going to make a dent in this problem by ourselves," said Joan Steinberg, president of the Morgan Stanley Foundation, telling Reuters that 17 million children in the U.S. have a mental disorder, and most are not receiving treatment. "The problem is way bigger than any one of us. But we are all hiring these kids when they grow up."
Mental health in marginalized communities is a particular focus. To that end, among the seven groups in Morgan Stanley’s alliance is the Steve Foundation, which promotes mental health and emotional well-being for students of color.
Another group, Child Mind Institute, offers an online tool parents can use to analyze symptoms of possible psychiatric or learning disorders they may be seeing in their child. The group said it will use Morgan Stanley grant money to upgrade its online services, including creating Spanish-language versions of health guides and other materials. The online upgrades will help the organization reach underserved communities where residents are poorer, geographically isolated or where English is a second language.
Addressing children’s mental health is not only an opportunity but an obligation for the private sector, Steinberg noted. "Our hope is to bring capital to the table, ours and other groups — private philanthropy, our clients, employees and our [Wall Street] peers," she said.