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Bulletin PostsConnectThe 23rd Times

May 5th, 2019 | The 23rd Times

By May 1, 2019No Comments

May is Mental Health Month

by: Joanne Halt, M.A. – NAMI FaithNet Representative

The brain is a complex organ and there is no easy, quick test leading to an accurate diagnosis for brain chemistry disorder/mental illness. This, combined with cost of treatment, stigma and anosognosia (impaired ability of the ill person to perceive illness due to damage in the brain’s right hemisphere), are reasons many families wait as long as eight years before the right mix of medication and supportive services help their loved one manage symptoms. Meanwhile, great stress is placed on the family unit.

There is a new mental health service in our community that can help families. The Center for Progress and Excellence won the contract for the 20th District Court from Florida Behavioral Health Network (the funding entity for the state which distributes funds through the Department of Family Services) for a Mobile Crisis Unit. This Mobile Crisis Unit cuts down on stigma and increases the likelihood that families will reach out for help.

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In the past, one could call the police and ask for a Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) officer to respond to a family mental health crisis. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has been instrumental in our local CIT training, helping police and correction officers to recognize and respond properly in encounters with an individual who has a brain disorder. Signs of a brain chemistry disorder appear before age 24 for 75% of those diagnosed, and parents can be confused as to what is causing behavioral problems. A family now has the option to call the Mobile Crisis Response Team at 844-395-4432

Team Assistance Whenever:

  • a loved one is severely depressed
  • a loved one has suicidal or self-harming thoughts
  • a loved one has increased anxiety or panic attacks
  • parent-child conflict is out of control, but not in need of physical restraint
  • the family feels overwhelmed and unsure how to handle a loved one
  • Or a CIT police officer can be requested at 911 when there is:
  • a high risk of aggression or violence
  • attempted or high risk of suicide
  • intoxicated or criminal behavior
  • a need for medical treatment or transportation
  • a situation calling for physical restraint

The Mobile Crisis team arrives in an unmarked vehicle within 60 minutes of a call. If the Baker Act (involuntary 48 hour hold/ assessment) is warranted, ongoing services such as locating support groups, assistance with benefits, and advocacy with agencies are included. Because jails most often replace hospital care in our failed mental health care system, this Mobile Crisis Unit is a blessing to our community. In 2016-17, there were 9,850 Baker Acts/involuntary assessments due to mental health crisis in the five county area covered by 20th District Court.

Join Our Team!

We are asked by God to accompany those who suffer. Our parish mental health ministry team Journey to Hope, is walking again on September 28 at NAMIWalks to bust stigma and raise funds for our local NAMI. Thank you for your financial support last year! For more information email Joanne Halt at: