- IYKYK: Share Your Story
Starting The Journey
Figuring out how to navigate the mental health system can be overwhelming. Tampa Bay Thrives is building solutions to make finding resources and therapists more streamlined and to make that next step a bit easier. Help is just a call or a click away.
Let’s talk is a free support line with trained counselors waiting to help you on your journey toward better mental health.
Take this quick quiz to help you determine your next steps.
Or call 844-YOU-OKAY to speak to a trained counselor. The call is free and confidential.
Finding available therapists or appointments can take too long when you or a loved one needs help. Tampa Bay Thrives is looking at the problem holistically to increase the access to providers and supports We’ve worked with our community to develop programs with short-term appointments, while we tackle the systemic issues around supporting and developing our behavioral health workforce.
Immediate Care Program
Can’t wait for your next appointment? The Let’s Talk line (844-YOU-OKAY) provides the first step in helping callers figure out what support they might need for their mental health. This extension to service has several additional options to connect directly to help. This includes:
- short-term telehealth bridge counseling for individuals facing long wait times to get into their first appointment. This service is provided by the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay and University of South Florida’s Department of Psychiatry.
- an appointment at one of 10 local AdventHealth Express Care at Walgreens locations where a staff member will assess needs and provide referral to a telehealth counselor for additional support
- a referral to a licensed counselor at Tampa General’s Urgent Care powered by Fast Track on Water Street in Tampa to help navigate next steps
- a connection to a licensed clinical social worker at Northside Behavioral Health Center who will provide in-person help to pave the path to feeling better
All of these options are available by calling Let’s Talk at 844-YOU-OKAY. It’s confidential support for mental health that is free and available 24/7.
BH Workforce Convening
From our ambassadors to our events, we fight the stigma every day to open the dialogue and create an environment that is judgment free. You are not alone. Our families, friends and co-workers are all battling something. It’s ok to talk about and to seek help.
Tampa Bay Thrives Ambassadors are the proud faces of Mental Health. They are champions of access to mental health and talking about the need to get help without stigma. They are our biggest supporters and we are grateful for them.
Netflix’s Selling Tampa
Colony Reeves spent her childhood winning beauty pageants and gracing the covers of magazines. She was the face of beauty, of exuberance, of joy.
Today, she is the star on Netflix’s popular reality show Selling Tampa, which was released in 2021. At 30 years old, she still has the model looks, but she’s also added some luxury real estate agent glamour.
Despite what viewers saw — her stylish wardrobe, bright smile, and impeccable makeup —Colony wants her community to know: she has sought help for depression and still sees a therapist. She is the face of someone who once struggled with mental health.
“Sometimes what you see is a mask,” said Colony, who was born and raised in Tampa and graduated from Tampa Catholic. “Many people have masks on to hide what they’re going through or what they have been through. And more people have masks on than we know.”
For Colony, her mask emerged after she was assaulted while at college in Tallahassee.
Her dad brought her home so her family could care for her, but she slipped into a year-long battle with extreme depression as a result of the trauma.
Mental health isn’t often spoken about in the black community; and that was the case in her own home. Colony’s spiral led her mom to seek out the help of a therapist. Slowly, Colony began to heal.
She finished school at the University of South Florida. After graduation, she got a job as a preschool teacher. On the outside, she seemed to have everything going for her again: a college degree, a good career, a boyfriend, and a loving family.
But the light inside Colony had dimmed; underneath the façade, the beauty queen mask, she was unhappy, depressed, and on another downward spiral. She couldn’t explain it. Depression had a grip on her and she was suffocating.
Her mom encouraged her to seek out counseling again. With the help of a therapist, Colony bounced back. She found love in real estate and reaped success because she worked hard, was knowledgeable, and cared about her clients.
Selling Tampa brought a spotlight that she wasn’t expecting. She knows she wants to use her platform for good; to make a difference. She’s using her platform to advocate for mental health and help destigmatize therapy.
She wants others to see her face and know that mental health struggles can afflict anyone. And they do. The face of mental health looks like a brother, a friend, a co-worker, a stranger in line at the grocery store. With help from a therapist – she still goes monthly – she is at a good place in her life. She wants to talk about it. She wants others to feel comfortable seeking help. She makes it a point to check in with her circle, to make sure they’re good. Because talking about mental health and seeking help has made all the difference. Today, when her mask smiles, her spirit smiles, too.
Victor experienced the loss of his daughter, Antonella, a day before her due date. He fell into a long period of depression. With the help of therapy, Victor started to smile again. He found that flowers brightened people’s faces. He wanted to honor Antonella through flowers, to create joy – something he thought he’d never find again. He wanted to think of Antonella every time he saw a flower. So he opened up a flower shop and called it Tonella’s. For every bouquet that he sells, he sells moments of happiness.
Strike the Stigma
Tampa Bay Thrives partnered with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Blue to bring together youth for a day of open discussions surrounding mental health. The event was held Oct 12, 2022.
We are curious, and constantly looking for the information and data to inform our coalition’s critical work. We then put this knowledge to work to inform our program designs and our region’s leaders about the critical issues facing Tampa Bay’s mental health. We are also a proud affiliate of Mental Health America.
According to Mental Health America,
- Florida ranks 49th in the country in terms of access to mental health services
- Roughly 64% of Floridian adults with mental illness, over 1.8 million people in total, are going untreated, an estimated 54% of whom are covered by insurance.
Data between 2019 and the end of 2021 in Hillsborough County shows:
- 664% increase in people seeking screens for anxiety, and 472% increase for depression (followed by bipolar screens)
- 661% increase in severity measured by those who screened positive for a bipolar screen or moderate-to-severe in screens for depression and anxiety
- Teenagers and young adults (up to 34) account for 83% of the screens, indicating an increasing mental health crisis in our younger population.
Tampa Bay Thrives survey data found that:
- Most patients and caregivers report that navigating to BH supports is difficult in the Tampa Bay region
- 66% of respondents with BH needs rate navigating BH resources to be challenging
- 77% of caregivers rate navigating BH resources to be challenging
- 70% indicated it was very challenging to find resources or get a referral for their mental health condition or substance use disorder.
Online screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, are real, common and treatable. And recovery is possible.
TAMPA BAY RESIDENTS MISSING WORK DUE TO MENTAL HEALTH
New survey offers insight into state of region’s mental health. View Study
Across Tampa Bay, 7 in 10 residents experienced at least one poor mental health day in a recent month, a survey commissioned by Tampa Bay Thrives found. Ten percent of respondents reported missing work, corresponding to 393,400 missed workdays a month and approximately 4.72 million missed workdays per year across the region.
This baseline of the community’s perceptions, practices, and experiences related to mental health in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Polk counties showed not only the need for mental health services, but the stigma attached to it.
Stigma is often deeply embedded in communities and cultures. Survey analysis demonstrates Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino residents are more likely to think “other people” will see mental health as a sign of weakness, personal failure or will think less of someone.
“The uncertainty and residual stress that has impacted our community over the last three years has put pressure on our collective mental health,” said Carrie Zeisse, president & CEO of Tampa Bay Thrives. “Our mental well-being touches all aspects of our lives, from our homes to our schools, workplaces and interpersonal relationships. We want people to know that there is help and there is hope. You are not alone.”
Other findings from the April 2022 survey include:
- The most common side effect of poor mental health was the inability to sleep through the night.
- When asked if a person has, in the last 12 months, needed help for emotional or mental health problems or challenges such as feeling sad, low, anxious, or nervous, 46% responded “yes.”
- Despite having insurance, the majority of respondents cited cost as the main reason they do not seek help.
- 35% of respondents indicated they currently need help to address their mental health needs. Yet individuals “at-risk,” those with children, and Polk County residents, were the most likely to report they did not receive the mental healthcare they needed.
Hillsborough County Focus Group Report
Understanding Mental Health Perceptions and the Impact of Stigma on Accessing Behavioral Health Services: An Evaluation with Hillsborough County
Mental Health America Young Mental Health Leaders Council
2022 Annual Report
Shifting Power in Youth Mental Health