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Flagler Health + Partners with Nassau County School District Increase Adolescent Access to Mental Health Services

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Erin Wallner
Flagler Health + Partners with Nassau County School District Increase Adolescent Access to Mental Health Services

St. Augustine, Fla. August 19, 2021 -- Care Connect+, a social health organization led by Flagler Health+, announced a partnership with the Nassau County School District that will increase access to mental health services for the 12,000+ students in all of the district’s 16 schools. Nassau County joins St. Johns and Putnam County in partnering with Flagler Health + Care Connect to provide these services to youth in Northeast Florida school districts.

Be Resilient and Voice Emotions (BRAVE) is a program that encourages area youth to get in touch with their mental health early on, be open to receiving help and supports access to behavioral health services via care navigation and technology. As part of Care Connect+, the program works with the whole family to address social determinants of health to ensure delivery of the right care, at the right time, in the right place.

Flagler Health + has pledged $15,000 to the expansion of BRAVE in Nassau County Schools. The pledge is expected to assist between 300 and 400 students with access to mental health services. BRAVE offers multiple resources for families in need, including care coordination and navigation services, access to virtual mental health counseling visits and a 24-hour crisis text line.

Flagler Health + Care Connect also recognizes that mental health services are often only a piece of the need. For this reason, they utilize a unified intake process, allowing staff to identify unmet social needs for the entire family, eligible resources, and the most appropriate behavioral health provider for the student. This includes services from a variety of community providers.

In Florida, six out of 10 youth (66.8%) who are depressed and are most at-risk for depression do not receive any mental health treatment. And due to effects on mental health stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, experts agree that the need for mental health services is greater now than ever.

During the 2019/2020 school year, 299 Nassau County students were referred for mental health services in the community. Only 96 of those students received care in the community due to barriers beyond the school district’s control. Barriers to receiving treatment include lack of insurance, high insurance deductibles, transportation barriers, difficulties navigating the mental health services system and social stigma associated with receiving mental health services.

“It is rewarding to be able to help expand the reach of BRAVE into the Nassau County School System and to provide support and access for behavioral health care services to youth in our community. With this announcement, BRAVE programming is available to students in St. Johns County, Putnam County, and now, Nassau County, with more counties expected to take advantage of these vitally important services in the near future,” said Jason Barrett, President and CEO of Flagler Health+.

“The Nassau County School District is excited about this opportunity to work with the BRAVE program. It will help facilitate the support our students need in the area of behavioral health. We are excited about the additional access to resources our students and families will have to assist them during difficult times. The opportunity will positively impact our goal of developing each student as an inspired life-long learner and problem-solver with the strength of character to serve as a productive member of society,” said Rosalina Stelma, Coordinator of Exception Student Education, Nassau County School District.

Launched byFlagler Health + Care Connect in 2019 in partnership with the St. Johns County School District and with support from THE PLAYERS, the program has already made significant progress. Prior to BRAVE’s implementation, only 35% of students who were referred to a mental health provider were actually seen by a medical professional. With the BRAVE program, that rate has increased to 93%.