Establishing the West Central Florida Mental Wellness Coalition
Recognizing the record number of suicide rates, substance use and opioid deaths, nearly 30 local organizations have joined forces to develop a regional mental health initiative.
On June 20, BayCare CEO and President Tommy Inzina and participating leaders from other hospitals, behavioral health providers, law enforcement, government agencies, and schools launched the West Central Florida Mental Wellness Coalition, Inc. from a venue in Tampa. The purpose: to help improve outcomes for depression, anxiety and substance use disorders in Tampa Bay (Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk Counties) and West Central Florida.
“Our community is in a crisis, and that’s why we need everyone’s support to help make a change,” Tommy Inzina, president and CEO of BayCare, told the guests at the launch event. “This is not just a BayCare issue. It’s a community issue. BayCare is the convener, and we’re trying to create momentum and provide a platform.”
Through this coalition, the goal is to bring together organizations from the region to destigmatize the issue of mental health and substance use, create urgent care access and enhance navigational resources. By working collectively as a region, across sectors, the coalition hopes to see more positive outcomes for our community’s mental health.
The coalition has already raised a little over $5 million toward their goal of $7.5 million that they need to cover operating costs for the first five years.
Participating leaders like Ravi Chari, MD, president at HCA West Florida Division, Chris Nocco, sheriff at Pasco County Sheriff’s Department and Tracye Brown, assistant superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools, made the case for change and asked others to get involved.
The participating organizations plan to create a governing board and a professional core team to accomplish their goals.