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$2M In Hillsborough County COVID-19 Funds To Help People With Mental Health Issues

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TAMPA, FL — Hillsborough County residents experiencing coronavirus-related mental health issues will have access to support thanks to a nearly $2 million investment from the Hillsborough County Commission.

On Wednesday, commissioners unanimously approved a 30-month contract with Tampa Bay Thrives to provide mental and behavioral health services to residents whose mental or behavioral health issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The contract expires Aug. 31, 2024.

The funds come from Hillsborough County’s American Rescue Plan Act Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

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The $1.99 million in funding will be used to support a behavioral health program to help residents who are dealing with depression, anxiety or substance abuse, with a focus on early intervention, access and awareness.

Tampa Bay Thrives will:

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  • expand a free and confidential 24-hour Let’s Talk line for behavioral health support and navigation.
  • provide short-term counseling that will serve as a bridge to longer-term care.
  • create a research and awareness campaign focusing on addressing stigma toward mental and behavioral health in Hillsborough County.
  • conduct an annual survey of county residents regarding mental health and substance abuse and the impact of COVID-19 to identify service gaps.
  • deliver a community-wide marketing campaign focused on reducing the stigma of mental and behavioral health, providing resources and increasing residents’ knowledge of existing resources.

“The pandemic has caused significant pressures for Hillsborough County residents, with 67 percent of individuals surveyed indicating that COVID-19 has negatively affected their mental health,” said Carrie Zeisse, president and CEO of Tampa Bay Thrives. “We thank the board of county commissioners for their support. Their vote today shows that they see the importance of addressing our community’s mental health. We look forward to helping normalize mental health and making help more accessible to all.”

Tampa Bay Thrives is a nonprofit Mental Health America affiliate formed in 2019, to improve behavioral health outcomes for people with depression, anxiety and substance abuse problems.

The Hillsborough County American Rescue Plan Investment Plan, approved by the county commission on Sept. 1, provides a framework for investing the $285 million in federal coronavirus state and local recovery funds that Hillsborough County received to help the community recover.

The funding also will be used to improve water and sewer facilities, the county’s broadband infrastructure and economic impacts to county residents and businesses.

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