by TERESA SCHIFFER
When President John F. Kennedy passed the Community Mental Health Act of 1963, a new world was opened up to scores of individuals who would never have received the care they needed to thrive in society. Locally, Winter Haven Hospital’s Center for Behavioral Health opened its doors in 1967 as one of the first facilities to benefit from the funding and oversight designated to establish community-based mental health care centers intended to provide a more humane alternative to institutionalization.
That legacy is being carried on and nurtured in the 21st century with the opening this year of the Annex — a new building from which an array of outpatient services will operate. From school-based and in-home therapy for children to case management and care coordination, all are welcome to come to the Center for Behavioral Health and its Annex for care. There’s even a “Zen Room” at the Annex to provide a calming atmosphere for patients, team members, and anyone who needs to just drop in and chill for a bit.
Teresa Even, manager of Behavioral Health Services at the Center for Behavioral Health, elaborates on who is served by the Center and the new Annex.
“We provide services to those ages 3 and up with a full initial assessment to determine service needs. Through the Polk County Indigent Healthcare Program, we are able to provide services to uninsured adults and adults with Polk County Health Plan insurance,” Even says.
The Annex will now house the popular Peer Recovery Program, where adults receive education, support, resources, and socialization centered around mental health issues.
The need for these types of services has been clear for quite some time, and has only increased in the past few years.
“Behavioral health is always among the top concerns in community health needs assessments,” Even explains. “Through our assessment process we can determine what is the most appropriate service, confirm the adult or family is in agreement and initiate services. If it is not a service that CBH provides, we will ensure the individual or family has the necessary information and referral for another provider.”
Uninsured and underinsured patients are welcome, and the staff will assist those individuals with identifying sources of funding for their treatment. Approximately 100 team members staff the Center for Behavioral Health and the Annex, including case managers, licensed mental health counselors, social workers, psychiatrists, and more. Many hold specialized certificates.
The Annex will help provide much-needed ongoing outpatient care to individuals discharged from the hospital’s inpatient and observation behavioral health units, as well as individuals simply seeking outpatient care.
If you feel you could benefit from treatment through the Center for Behavioral Health, call (863) 294-7062 to speak with a behavioral health office representative. They’ll help you figure out when would be the best time to visit the site to initiate services. If the Peer Recovery Program sounds like the right place for you, call (863) 293-1121, ext. 205789 for information on when the group meets. You don’t need an appointment to join the Peer Recovery Program.
Spread the word about these services that are available, as you never know who might need the information.
“Sharing information in public meetings, on social media, as well as in informal conversations in your daily community interactions should not be underestimated,” concludes Even.