Shaking the Mental Health Stigma: How HFUW Supports the Mental Wellness of our Neighbors

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The importance of mental health can’t be ignored, and Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) is committed to doing our part to support mental health and wellness within our community.  

Let’s Talk About Mental Health 

Asking for help is not easy. Tom Holland, an on-screen superhero, recently shared his mental wellness experience that shed light on the stigma around mental health. Holland shared his recent measures of withdrawing himself from social media to care for his mental state of well-being. 

At HFUW, we are grateful for people like Holland, who are raising awareness and continuing the discussion on mental health to better support our community.  

But while celebrity support elevates the conversation, we must locally support those in need right here in our own backyard. 

HFUW Research on Mental Health  
One of the ways we’re evaluating our community’s needs is through research in partnership with Orange County. Mayor Jerry L. Demings and the Orange County Board of County Commission commissioned Heart of Florida United Way with completing a research report of mental and behavioral health in our community. The report was launched in February 2022.  You can view it here.  

Our analysis pointed out concerns and provided key recommendations in six focus areas: integrated and coordinated mental and behavioral health care delivery, mental health promotion, affordable housing and services for homeless individuals and families, qualified and available workforce, mental and behavioral health finances, and implementation.    

Limited access to mental health support, the cost to patients, cultural and linguistic barriers, and a shortage of qualified workforce are among the concerns raised by the report. 
Operating 211 and 988 

We also operate our 211 Information and Referral Crisis Line, which is a free and confidential resource connecting people to the essential health and human services they need 24/7/365 by simply dialing 211. 
In 2021, more than 112,000 calls were received from Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties. 

Additionally, we operate the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — which transitioned to the new three-digit 988 dialing code in July 2022. Similar to 911 and 211, this lifeline is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors. 

In 2021, HFUW’s 211 Crisis Line answered more than 11,000 crisis intervention/suicide calls. That is 30 suicide calls every single day from the three-county Central Florida area alone.    

As a community, we can shatter the stigma surrounding mental health by starting a conversation. With the continuum of research, collaboration, and the desire to shake the stigma, together we can live better to LIVE UNITED. 

Coming Soon: HFUW’s Mental Wellness Skillshop 

We are working with certified counselor and leadership coach Dwight Bain on developing a new wellness program, called Getting to the Heart of It: A Mental Wellness Skillshop. 

In this skillshop, people will learn the best ways to support each other’s mental wellness and ways to maintain our own mental well-being. Are you interested? Fill out our mental wellness skillshop interest form here.  

What You Can Do 

  • Share this blog to start a conversation about mental health with your peers 
  • Advocate for those struggling with mental health and make sure they’re aware of resources like 211 and 988 

Stay Connected 

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