Natalie Kelly: Mental health issues are surging; time to get help

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This Mental Health Awareness Month, help yourself or a loved one connect with the behavioral health services that can help propel their lives in a positive and productive direction

Many people with mental health or substance use disorder struggle alone. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Help is available — regardless of one’s ability to pay for life-altering — and lifesaving — behavioral health services.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and Florida’s seven Managing Entities oversee a network of behavioral health providers that provide essential behavioral health services to Florida’s uninsured and underinsured population.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 32.3% of adults in Florida reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. And, of course, there’s the subset of individuals who have serious mental illness, including bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, people with serious mental illnesses can manage their conditions, overcome challenges and lead meaningful, productive lives.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The Florida Association of Managing Entities encourages Floridians facing mental health or substance use disorder challenges to connect with community resources by calling 2-1-1. Community resources include — but are not limited to — mental health services, veterans support, transportation, disaster preparedness, and more.

Individuals in crisis or contemplating suicide should contact 9-8-8, the crisis and suicide lifeline.

While it is well-documented that the pandemic exacerbated and increased mental health issues among all Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has emphasized that among children and teens, in the 10 years leading up to the pandemic, persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, as well as suicidal thoughts, had increased by 40% among young people.

Florida’s local Managing Entities reach approximately three million Floridians who need mental health and substance use disorder support, including behavioral health, prevention and educational services. The behavioral health direct services are provided by a network of 300 behavioral health care providers who serve up to 300,000 of Florida’s most vulnerable residents, including children, expectant mothers, veterans and the chronically homeless.

Providers meet patients’ diverse needs with “wraparound services” that not only address mental health issues and substance abuse, but also assist with housing, transportation and employment.

Managing Entities are governed by members of the community in each local region. Community boards administer, manage and ensure accountability of state and federal funds for behavioral health services, keeping oversight and accountability closest to the people they serve.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, help yourself or a loved one connect with the behavioral health services that can help propel their lives in a positive and productive direction.


Natalie Kelly is CEO of the Florida Association of Managing Entities.

Guest Author

One comment

  • Amanda Woodson

    May 5, 2023 at 5:17 am

    It is important to address the surging mental health issues that many people are facing, as mentioned in the article shared. Seeking help and support is crucial, and online therapy platforms can be a convenient and accessible option. In relation to this, I would like to share an interesting article on Newsmax that highlights the top 5 online therapy platforms for 2022 and beyond. It provides valuable information that can help people choose the right platform for their mental health needs. With the rise of digital health, it’s encouraging to see that there are more resources available to support people’s mental health and well-being.

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