ORLANDO | A grant from the American Red Cross is helping Catholic Charities reach more people in need of mental health services following Hurricane Irma. Catholic Charities of Central Florida (CCCF) is expanding Behavioral Health Services with new staff members in collaboration with the Dioceses of St. Augustine and St. Petersburg. The new team members will focus on providing mental health counseling in these areas, sharing information about available services, as well as growing a referral network for mental health services to share with their communities in St. Augustine and St. Petersburg.

Research shows that survivors of natural disasters can have mental health problems in the weeks, months, and years following a natural disaster. The initial emergency response focuses on the physical safety of survivors, and public attention often fades by the time survivors are left to confront potential lasting effects from the disasters. Factors such as job loss, displacement, and trauma can contribute to depression or post-traumatic stress disorder for survivors. Substance use and domestic violence may also increase in communities following a natural disaster. Since disasters can have impacts on many aspects of survivors’ lives, a holistic approach to aid that includes financial help for physical needs like food and housing, as well as psychological help for mental health problems, like the one CCCF is working to provide, can have a significant positive impact on a community. Survivors need a safe space to acknowledge and work through what they have lost in the disaster, and Catholic Charities intends to be that space.

Anita Hassell, Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Augustine, notes they have served approximately 11,640 people in their regional offices following Hurricane Irma. Although Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Augustine has not had a counseling program for more than seven years, they recognize the need in the community and jumped at the chance to partner with the existing Behavioral Health program at Catholic Charities of Central Florida to apply for the grant from the American Red Cross. The funds from the grant allow them to provide different types of mental health counseling, based on the needs of individuals in their community, in addition to financial services for those affected by Hurricane Irma. Hassell hopes that after the end of the grant’s term, they can continue to provide mental health services to their community. “Having more than one year’s experience in providing counseling will help us in obtaining funding from other sources because we will be able to show experience, outcomes, and service history,” she said.

Catholic Charities of Central Florida is helping the Dioceses of St. Augustine and St. Petersburg get their behavioral health services up and running with the administrative support and mental health expertise of Catherine Galda, director of Behavioral Health Services for CCCF, and her team. Galda looks forward to this growing partnership. “[We are] grateful for the opportunity to partner in the new way with our fellow diocese,” she explained. “This generous grant from American Red Cross provides an important opportunity to provide mental health counseling services to those in the greatest need after a natural disaster. We recognize that natural disasters put a strain on all who experience them, and that those with limited resources are often at the greatest risk for ongoing struggle and barriers to recovery and resilience.”

By Carly Matthews, Florida Catholic correspondent – March 2019

 

Upcoming Mental Health First Aid Trainings

 

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Part One: 4/10 8:30 AM-12:30 PM

Part Two: 4/12 8:30 AM-12:30 PM

1819 N Semoran Blvd Orlando, FL 32807

Cost is $30 and covers course materials and refreshments. Payment can be made in cash or by check made out to Catholic Charities of Central Florida the day of the training.

To register: Contact Ms. Kyle Osborn kosborn@cflcc.org or 407-969-8534 OR register online: To register for the course, please visit https://portal.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/firstaiders/signin?returnUrl=firstaiders and enter your Course ID  00117438

Adult Mental Health First Aid

Part One: 4/24 12:30 PM-4:30 PM

Part Two: 4/26 12:30 PM-4:30 PM

1819 N Semoran Blvd Orlando, FL 32807

Cost is $30 and covers course materials and refreshments. Payment can be made in cash or by check made out to Catholic Charities of Central Florida the day of the training.

To register: Contact Ms. Kyle Osborn kosborn@cflcc.org or 407-969-8534 OR register online: To register for the course, please visit https://portal.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/firstaiders/signin?returnUrl=firstaiders and enter your Course ID  00118568

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Part One: 5/13 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Part Two: 5/15 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM

1819 N Semoran Blvd Orlando, FL 32807

Cost is $30 and covers course materials and refreshments. Payment can be made in cash or by check made out to Catholic Charities of Central Florida the day of the training.

To register: Contact Ms. Kyle Osborn kosborn@cflcc.org or 407-969-8534 OR register online: To register for the course, please visit https://portal.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/firstaiders/signin?returnUrl=firstaiders and enter your Course ID 00118575

Adult Mental Health First Aid

Part One: 5/20 12:30 PM-4:30 PM

Part Two: 5/21 12:30 PM-4:30 PM

1819 N Semoran Blvd Orlando, FL 32807

Cost is $30 and covers course materials and refreshments. Payment can be made in cash or by check made out to Catholic Charities of Central Florida the day of the training.

To register: Contact Ms. Kyle Osborn kosborn@cflcc.org or 407-969-8534 OR register online: To register for the course, please visit https://portal.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/firstaiders/signin?returnUrl=firstaiders and enter your Course ID  00118572