Simply Healthcare and the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics have teamed up to support students’ mental health as they prepare to head back to school.
“Good health is more than just a healthy body; it’s also a healthy mind,” said Holly Prince, the Simply Healthcare Medicaid Plan president. “We recognize that Florida’s kids have faced unprecedented challenges and changes over the last year, and we want to help them achieve and maintain good health. We’re proud to partner with the FCAAP, a household name when it comes to trusted resources and information about children in Florida.
“Through this partnership, we’re going to produce resources and information that help families, providers, schools, and other organizations effectively care for Florida’s children, so they can learn and grow to be Florida’s future leaders.”
A recent report from the Jed Foundation showed the need for such a partnership has only grown since the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The report found most parents say their child has experienced distress over the past year.
Also, the state has seen a 30% increase in Baker Acts among 12- to 17-year-olds. Baker Acts are a mechanism for committing people — children or adults — to a mental health treatment center.
“Children who struggle with mental health concerns can struggle in school, in sports, and in friendships. Worse, their challenges could lead to long-term disabilities or death,” said Dr. Lisa Gwynn, the president of FCAAP. “It’s critically important for all of us to support children through challenging times. That’s why we’re proud to partner with Simply Healthcare toward our common mission of achieving and maintaining good health among Florida’s children.”
In addition, the findings of the inaugural State of the Nation’s Mental Health report, issued in May by Simply Healthcare’s parent company, showed that while people of all ages are reporting heightened stress due to the pandemic, there has not been a corresponding increase in diagnoses and treatment — a sign children may not be getting the help they need.
The partnership between Simply Healthcare and FCAAP will see the two organizations develop and provide resources to help children, families, schools and health care providers discuss and treat mental health issues.
As a first step, the two organizations are working together on a curated online tool kit that will provide resources on supporting children through challenges, help increase understanding of children’s mental health, dispel the stigma surrounding mental health issues and treatment, and improve mental health care access.
Simply Health said the tool kit would be available soon, and that it is working alongside FCAAP to develop additional resources.
“For someone in search of answers and support, there are many resources out there. In developing this tool kit, it was our goal to create a library of resources and contacts that anyone in need could trust,” Prince said. “The backing of the FCAAP tells parents, providers, and others that these resources have been carefully evaluated and are safe and effective.”