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UF Health St. JohnsPartners with Clay County District Schools to Increase Adolescent Access to Mental Health Services

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Erin Wallner
UF Health St. JohnsPartners with Clay County District Schools to Increase Adolescent Access to Mental Health Services

St. Augustine, Fla. September 1, 2021 -- Care Connect+, a social health organization led by Flagler Health+, announced a partnership with Clay County District Schools today that will increase access to mental health services for the more than 40,000 students in all of the district’s 42 schools. Clay County joins St. Johns, Putnam and Nassau in partnering with UF Health Care Connectto 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.

UF Health St. Johnswill be managing $60,000 of the county’s Mental Health Allocation funding the expansion of BRAVE in Clay County Schools. This funding is allocated from the Florida State Senate bill 7030, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School bill.

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.

UF Health Care Connectalso 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 provided by Clay Behavioral Health Center, Impower, Right Path Behavioral, Rivers Edge Counseling, Youth Crisis Center and Children’s Home Society.

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. 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 2020-2021 school year, nearly 400 Clay County students received mental health services. The District estimates there are dozens more that have been referred, but are waiting for access to services from outside vendors.

“It is an honor to announce this partnership between UF Health Care Connectand the Clay County District Schools. Working together we can address the complex issues around behavioral health that are facing our youth today. Today’s announcement means that BRAVE now provides this vitally important programming serving youth in four Northeast Florida school districts,” stated Jason Barrett, President and CEO of Flagler Health+.

“I am grateful for the partnership with UF Health St. Johnsto launch the BRAVE program, which will make mental health services more accessible to students and families. With this program, the District will be able to closely monitor each student's journey from referral to service to ensure all needs are being met,” said David Broskie, Superintendent of Clay County District Schools.

Launched by UF Health Care Connectin 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 mental health provider were actually seen by a medical professional. With the BRAVE program, that rate has increased to 93%.