Apr 062018

Housing instability has slowly been emerging as a stronger predictor of suicide than income, employment, or education.  People at risk for suicide are more likely to be renters, according to Summer DeBastiani, PhD(c), MPH, RN, from the University of Miami(1).  Especially after Irma destroyed up to 25% of the housing in the Florida Keys, particularly low income housing, assessing the mental health of residents experiencing housing instability is more important than ever.

 Recognizing this, United Way of the Florida Keys is helping provide mental health support services to those who are struggling emotionally in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.  They are pleased to announce a total of $90,000 in funding to 2 local agencies to provide psychosocial support:  Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition will be offering Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program to help local children and Guidance Care Center will provide individual counseling to adults.

Guidance/Care Center, Inc. provides mental health and substance abuse services throughout the Florida Keys to adults, children & families. They will use this funding to focus on individual, outpatient mental health therapy sessions at all 3 of their sites in Monroe County for adult uninsured or underinsured clients.  These sessions can help with addressing coping skills, mental health disorders like PTSD or depression that have been exacerbated by the storm.  The goal is to assist individuals in their recovery from Hurricane Irma and ensure their emotional health.

“We are pleased to partner with United Way to support mental and emotional health for individuals recovering from Hurricane Irma,” says Maureen Dunleavy, Area Director, WestCare / Guidance Care Center, Inc.

Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition will use Save the Children’s Journey of Hope curriculum. They are pleased to be able to provide this support to Keys families, as the program is designed to support children in understanding and normalizing emotions associated with trauma or other difficult circumstances and developing positive coping strategies to deal with these emotions.  Save the Children is an international, non-governmental organization that promotes children's rights; they have developed this evidence-based psychosocial intervention to support the unique emotional and social needs of children.  Their curriculum builds on the innate strengths of children, their families, schools and communities to further develop positive coping mechanisms and helps identify children in need of additional recovery support.

If you know someone who could benefit from these services, please contact either agency directly.  Guidance Care Center can be reached at 305-434-7660; Florida Keys Healthy Start Coalition can be reached at 305-293-8424.

(1) '2016 Monroe County, FL Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey Suicide Risk Report', Summer DeBastiani, PhD(c), MPH, RN, University of Miami, 12/15/17.

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