While May might be Mental Health Awareness Month, Heart of Florida United Way works to promote mental health and break down the stigma associated with it year-round.
Only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, far too many of our own neighbors are suffering in silence and facing mental health crises without adequate support.
In fact, the recently released Orange County Government’s Mental & Behavioral Health System of Care Community Analysis report finds that the length of time between when a person first experiences mental health symptoms and when they seek treatment is 11 years. Without medical knowledge and care, many people are left unaware that they could benefit from treatment, and the stigma of mental health is frequently an additional barrier to seeking care.
But together, we can work to proactively address mental health, break down the stigma, and better support our community. Here’s what Heart of Florida United Way is doing to help:
Raising awareness about the realities of mental health struggles in our community is key to promoting better care. Throughout May and beyond, we’ll be discussing mental health on our social media channels and more.
For example, news anchor-turned Heart of Florida United Way Senior Vice President of Community Relations & Equity Impact Nancy Alvarez recently sat down with WUCF’s Steve Mort and local Licensed Mental Health Counselor Dwight Bain for a WUCF-TV Special, From Chaos to Resiliency.
In the special, they discuss how COVID-19 upended so many lives and the long-term repercussions of mental health struggles.
Click here to view.
Heart of Florida United Way is also advocating for better mental healthcare by partnering with Orange County Government to invest $1 million in a tri-county culturally-competent campaign. The campaign is intended to break down the stigma of getting help and better equip community members to practice mental wellness.
The investment will also support a training program designed to ensure community leaders and healthcare practitioners are able to proactively support mental wellness and create a more aware and healthier Central Florida.
Another way Heart of Florida United Way continually supports our community’s wellness is through the 211 Information & Referral Crisis Line.
Via call, text or chat, clients can connect with a 211 specialist who has undergone hours of training to help individuals deal with some of the most daunting issues facing our community. From substance abuse treatment to suicide prevention, 211 specialists are trained to help clients cope with it all and can help connect them to the resources they need.
What Can You Do
There’s plenty you can do to support this work, too:
- Advocate for mental health and talk to your friends and family about breaking down the stigma
- Encourage those in need of mental health support to contact 211
- Donate to Heart of Florida United Way so we can continue partnering with community leaders to develop mental health programs right here in Central Florida