On July 2, 2019, Nicholas Coppola, MD, CEO of the Mental Health Association of Indian River County, FL (MHA) compassionately addressed the Indian River County (IRC), FL County Commissioners questioning why his organization, advocating for a school violence and suicide prevention program for ten Indian River County schools, received no funding from the Children’s Services Advisory Council (CSAC).
At the County Commission meeting, Mr. Robert Schlitt, Jr – Member-at-Large of CSAC indicated that “Some of the reason the Committee decided not to allocate to MHA…quite honestly the presentation made by Mental Health was less than optimal. We weren’t clear on exactly what they wanted to do with their program.”
Despite discussion between the Commissioners on how they might find funding for the MHA request, they voted unanimously to approve CSAC’s recommended allocations, so as not to interfere with their recommendations. Commissioner Peter O’Bryan said: “It was unfortunate this was not funded.”
Shortly thereafter, the Hospital District of Indian River County invited the MHA to make the same presentation to them about having them fund the same program curriculum based on “Erika’s Lighthouse,” whose mission is to make sure no young person feels alone in their depression.
The Mission of the Indian River County Hospital District is to foster a collaborative community health care system, with the objective of improving the health of our community.
The District listened to the presentation for MHA providing the Erika’s Lighthouse program in the Schools and added $45,000 to the first budget round, asking for MHA to provide a letter of Support from the School District for this program.
The letter has arrived and the District has two more rounds of September Budget Hearings before this funding is finally approved.
MHA is in the planning phases of implementation to start in October which will hopefully be when District funding would start.
MHA is dedicated to creating a community of empathy and education, creating middle school and high school teen depression awareness programs so educators and teens can create safe spaces to learn about depression; letting students know they are never alone, and there is somewhere to turn.
Additionally, the MHA is now associated with Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. MHA recognizes the need for mental health counseling for the depressed student LGBTQ+ population and will weave counseling for this group into its programs.
Consider these statistics from Equality Florida’s 2017 Youth Risk Behavioral Health Survey Results.
TABLE 45 – PERCENT SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED ATTEMPTING SUICIDE
State: 9.8 (Straight) 39.5 (LGB)
Broward: 11.8 (Straight) 33.4 (LGB)
Miami-Dade: 11 (Straight) 39.7 (LGB)
Palm Beach: 9.9 (Straight) 37.9 (LGB)
Orange: 12.3 (Straight) 40.5 (LGB)
Duval: 15.1 (Straight) 39.8 (LGB)