Let’s Talk, a free mental health support line, announced its launch in Hillsborough County to address rising rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse by connecting residents to health and wellness resources.
The initiative is spearheaded by Tampa Bay Thrives, an organization that brings together a coalition of Tampa Bay area hospitals, law enforcement agencies, local governments, and community leaders.
“Let’s Talk was crafted to complement existing resources and build upon the great work already happening in our community,” said Carrie Zeisse, president and CEO of Tampa Bay Thrives. “The pandemic has exacerbated the need to address mental health in the Tampa Bay region, and this project will help connect individuals who require additional support.”
Since the pandemic, the number of Americans reporting mental health-related challenges has spiked dramatically. The percentages of people who screened positive for moderate to severe anxiety rose from 7 percent in 2019 to 37 percent in 2021, and for those who screened positive for moderate to severe depression the percentages increased from 7 percent to 32 percent, according to the U.S. Census survey.
The Let’s Talk support line connects callers to trained counselors who can support them by providing information about services available, making referrals to local providers, giving brief supportive counseling, and offering connections to peer support. The service is available for Hillsborough County residents and is set to expand across the region in the coming months.
Tampa Bay Thrives worked with Vibrant Emotional Health, a national mental health organization, to create the support line. Vibrant Emotional Health administers many local and national mental health crisis and support lines, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Disaster Distress Helpline. One of Vibrant’s regional mental health support lines, NYC Well, responds to more than 380,000 calls, texts, and online chats annually in New York City.
“By leveraging technology to both deliver and increase access to mental health services, people can more easily get help,” said Kimberly Williams, president and CEO of Vibrant Emotional Health. “We are excited to be partnering with Tampa Bay Thrives to launch the Let’s Talk support line.”
Through community research, Tampa Bay Thrives identified navigation to the right counselor as one of the biggest challenges to people seeking help.
“Thousands of people in Tampa Bay are struggling with anxiety, depression, and substance use issues, and Let’s Talk is here to help,” said Tommy Inzina, president and CEO of BayCare Health System and Chair of the Board of Directors for Tampa Bay Thrives.
Tampa Bay Thrives and Let’s Talk are supported by McKinsey’s Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare, who work with organizations to drive innovation to improve overall well-being and reduce healthcare disparities.
“This addresses a critical and growing need. Our analysis shows a 20% increase in the use of psychotherapy compared to pre-pandemic levels, and many individuals in need continue to report challenges accessing care,” said Erica Coe, partner and leader of McKinsey’s Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare. “This is an opportunity to facilitate timely access to mental health care and improve outcomes.”
Community members can access Let’s Talk by calling 1-833-DIAL-111 (833-342-5111) or visiting https://letstalktampabay.org.
About Tampa Bay Thrives
Tampa Bay Thrives is a nonprofit, first formed in 2019, with the mission to mobilize the community to strengthen behavioral health outcomes for depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder, with a focus on improving early intervention, access, and awareness. Tampa Bay Thrives brings together leaders from health care organizations, law enforcement agencies, and community stakeholders from across the region. They are funded by AdventHealth, BayCare, Bon Secours Mercy Health System, Clearwater Police Department, Florida Blue Foundation, Genevieve Lykes and Lawrence Dimmit Family Foundation, HCA Healthcare, Pasco County Sheriff’s Department, Rays Baseball Foundation, Tampa General Hospital, and The Mosaic Company Foundation and has received technical support from McKinsey’s Center for Societal Benefit through Healthcare. To learn more, visit www.tampabaythrives.org.