Funds from Pinellas Community Foundation help nonprofits expand programs to reach thousands suffering behavioral health effects of pandemic shock
CLEARWATER, Florida (October 1, 2020) – Crisis and suicide related calls surged 47 percent in Pinellas County over this time last year. More than 1,400 residents have sought help from a local COVID-19 Emotional Support Line. Add disproportionate deaths and illnesses in low-income and communities of color, and the pandemic mental health picture gets bleaker.
Now hope has arrived. Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF)announced today that $2.6 million in grant money has been awarded to nine Pinellas County nonprofits to add or enhance programs addressing the mental health effects of COVID-19. Collectively, these program enhancements will reach 5,500 individuals, including first responders, youth and families, average citizens, and anyone experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression.
Among the nine organizations awarded grants are:
Directions for Living, receiving $1.3 million for:
- Mental Health First Aid Training to empower the community to know what to do when a person is having a mental health crisis, similar to how communities teach CPR.
- Mental health counseling to 911 Dispatchers experiencing increased anxiety due to COVID-19 and who request counseling.
- Expansion of Mental Health Unit partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, Telehealth counseling, and Wi-Fi and digital equipment so individuals in crisis who lack necessary tools can access counselors.
The Well For Life and Boys & Girls Club of the Suncoastreceiving $249,627 for:
· Mental health counseling at the neighborhood level where 79% of the 14,000 kids and teens served by the clubs are persons of color and 89% live at the federal poverty level.
- Mental health counseling sessions for staff to address their needs.
PCF was tapped in August by Pinellas County to administer $30 million in CARES Act funds to nonprofits that serve the community’s needs in the areas of food, homelessness, behavioral health and legal aid for housing. Since August, PCF has awarded a total of $11.5 million to nonprofits, including the $2.6 million to enhance mental health services. For details, visithttps://pinellascf.org/CARES.
 Pinellas County 211Tampa Bay Cares Call Center
2 Directions for Living, Clearwater, Florida
3 Centers for Disease Control
Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF) was founded in 1969. With over $120 million in charitable assets, PCF seeks effective solutions for Pinellas County’s most challenging social, environmental and educational issues, while supporting the advancement of arts and culture. More than 262 charitable organizations have received $60 million in donor-funded grants to support their community programs. PCF’s mission is made possible thanks to the generosity of donors. For information, call 727-531-0058.
Directions for Living is a trauma-focused 501(c)3 not-for-profit, incorporated in 1982 and headquartered in Pinellas County, Florida, serving over 30,000 clients every year, regardless of their ability to pay. Services include therapy, psychological testing and evaluation, psychiatry, addiction counseling, homeless outreach, homelessness diversion, case management, child welfare diversion services, parenting classes, peer support groups, suicide prevention, and anti-bullying and mental health stigma awareness. Visit online at www.directionsforliving.org.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast serves youth ages 5 to 18 by providing guidance-oriented character development programs conducted by trained, youth development professionals. Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast serves nearly 8,000 youth across Pinellas County. For more information call 727.524.2427 and visit online at www.bgcsun.org.
The Well for Life is the fastest growing Wellness Collective in Pinellas County, catering specifically to people of color. It supports the well-being of individuals, families and communities, especially those who are at most risk for behavioral health disparities due to exposure to systemic, historical or race-based trauma. Visit online at www.thewellforlife.org.