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Volunteers in Medicine Draws Attention to Mental Health During Suicide Prevention Month

September 6th, 2021 · Leave a Comment

Suicide and mental illness go hand in hand; 46% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition. Sadly, there is a stigma around mental health. In 2019, 51.5 million Americans reported experiencing mental illness but only 44.8% received treatment.

Duval County is far from immune. In 2019, 11,129 hospitalizations in Duval were the result of mental disorders, while 117 people died by suicide. Many of these are avoidable.

There are multiple organizations that offer free care to those with mental illness. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showcases different hotlines and non-profit organizations that tackle mental health among citizens, as well as having their own Suicide Prevention Resource Center. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) offers a free anonymous online support group along with links to other organizations. As a non-profit full-service medical clinic, Volunteers in Medicine also provides free health services to the working uninsured including mental health services.

Volunteers in Medicine CEO Jennifer Ryan shared that 10.9% of adults with mental illness and 11.9% of those with serious mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2019. In its 2019-20 Fiscal Year, amidst the pandemic, VIM provided 253 mental health appointments to 64 working uninsured patients. These people are cared for by committed mental health volunteers. VIM has also been able to share the cost of a mental health counselor with partner agency Family Foundations, through a grant from Baptist Health and Community Foundation.

In 2019, Florida Blue funded a unique partnership between VIM and the University of North Florida. The result: graduate-level mental health interns now offer free counseling via telehealth to VIM patients. To date, nine patients have been seen over 80 appointments by UNF graduate-level interns. This effort has in fact helped VIM to expand its own telehealth services to treat mental health patients.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, you can call the suicide hotline at 800-273-8255. You can also check out some of the following resources:

Mental Health Resource Center: Hearts4Minds: On Our Sleeves / Wolfson Children’s: mhrcflorida.com hearts4minds.org/jax wolfsonchildrens.com/onoursleeves

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