Trauma, anxiety, substance abuse, thoughts of suicide and other related issues have for years been steadily on the rise, in large part because more than half of those struggling never receive services and care, according to a 2017 study by Mental Health America.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the number of anxiety and depressive disorders nationally has been increasing even more, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2020:
- 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues;
- 31% experienced anxiety or depression symptoms;
- 26% had trauma-related disorder symptoms;
- 13% started or increased substance abuse;
- 11% seriously considered suicide.
Tampa Bay Thrives: How it works
Tampa Bay Thrives is a new nonprofit that will provide help to those struggling with mental health and substance use issues by helping to close gaps in the existing system. This includes a pilot project that will provide navigation to the right counselors, access to virtual short-term counseling for those that are unable to get in to see a local provider, and awareness that there is no shame in seeking treatment.
The recently formed nonprofit’s services include:
- Navigation: 24/7 phone access to behavioral health navigation staffed by mental health professionals who will assess needs and direct people to get the right help.
- Access: Virtual short-term counseling with licensed mental health professionals for those who need immediate short-term counseling as they wait for future appointments with local providers.
- Awareness: Removing the stigma of seeking mental health treatment so those in need feel as comfortable seeking treatment as they would for physical health concerns.
Pilot program set to begin this summer
The effort is set to begin this summer with a community pilot program in Hillsborough County, with plans in 2022 to expand into Pasco, Pinellas and Polk counties. A provider is being finalized to handle the pilot program’s navigation and short-term components.
Also, Tampa Bay Thrives is in the early planning stages of a public awareness campaign designed to lessen the stigma associated with mental health treatment.
An unprecedented collaboration of healthcare, foundations and law enforcement
Tampa Bay Thrives is an unprecedented collaboration of healthcare systems, hospitals, nonprofits, and private and public organizations. Among them are community leaders like BayCare, AdventHealth, HCA Healthcare, Florida Blue, Tampa General Hospital, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, Clearwater Police Department, Suncoast Center, Central Florida Behavioral Health Network, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County schools and Polk County Government, and charitable foundations like the Tampa Bay Rays Foundation, Bon Secours Mercy Health Foundation, The Mosaic Company Foundation, and the Dimmitt Family Foundation; and many other organizations.