Mental health Tampa FL Awareness Month and a Tampa Bay non-profit group hopes to shed light on the region’s enormous needs. Carrie Zeisse, CEO of Tampa Bay Thrives, joined WMNF’s WaveMakers to discuss the organization and how residents can get help.
The organization recently conducted a survey of 700 residents in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties. It found that 14% of respondents said a mental or emotional issue caused them to miss work in the last 30 days, an increase from 10% the previous year. The number of days missed translated to about 6.3 million lost workdays each year. Zeisse says she’s encouraged that stigma is decreasing and more people are seeking help.
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However, a lack of services and wait times are significant barriers to treatment. Zeisse points to the case of a man with bipolar disorder who lived in Tampa for 13 years without getting help and eventually committed a crime that ended up costing him his life. She said he illustrates Florida’s broken system, which relies on cops and courts rather than medical treatment.
The nonprofit recommends that anyone in a crisis call 844-YOUOKAY, which operates a free support line for residents who need emotional aid. The line connects people with specialists who can assist with a variety of issues including navigating long wait times to get their first appointment and connecting them to immediate care. They also offer short-term telehealth bridge counseling and will conduct follow-up calls for people in need.