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Community Foundation of Tampa Bay launches new mental health initiative, opens Pinellas County office

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The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay has launched a new mental health initiative as it also opens a new Pinellas County office. Its new “Mental Health First Aid” initiative teaches people in key roles how to identify, understand and respond to the mental health challenges of our friends and neighbors.

One in five American adults experience a mental health challenge within any given year, and social isolation, loneliness, worry and stress related to COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted many Americans’ mental health. Two in five Americans reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse in June 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Mental health plays a major role in creating a vibrant community,” said Marlene Spalten, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. “We’ve long supported organizations like Love IV Lawrence that are working to address mental health in our region. It’s time to do even more.”

The Community Foundation, one of a number of area organizations that have ramped up efforts to address mental health challenges during the pandemic, is launching a “Mental Health First Aid” initiative that focuses on early intervention.

The initiative will provide resources to train people who can help others from having a mental health crisis. In turn, this could help prevent area residents from getting arrested, being hospitalized under the Baker Act, or suffering other negative consequences.

Mental Health First Aid is a nationally certified training course that empowers people who work in public-facing roles to identify, understand and respond to signs of addictions and mental illness. The Community Foundation is aiming to train 5,000 people over the next three years, partnering with St. Petersburg College and Love IV Lawrence, a Community Foundation-hosted fund that supports organizations making positive changes around mental health.

The Community Foundation is covering the cost of the Mental Health First Aid course for people who work at nonprofit organizations, education institutions, faith communities and other public service organizations across the Tampa Bay region. These staffers are constantly in communication with hundreds of people, and they will have an opportunity to share resources, prevent crises and have a positive impact on many lives after receiving this training.

The Community Foundation is making this investment in the Tampa Bay community as it opens a new Pinellas County office. The organization has opened an office in St. Petersburg because it’s a major funder in Pinellas County, providing over $5.2 million to Pinellas-based nonprofits last year alone.

The Community Foundation has a principal office in Tampa, and maintains staffing or offices in several areas within the five counties it serves. The new Pinellas office is located at 110 Central Avenue, one of St. Petersburg’s most vibrant streets.

The office in St. Petersburg will play a vital role in serving the growing number of the Community Foundation’s Pinellas County fundholders while improving the region’s quality of life through the power of charitable giving.

Now, philanthropists, nonprofit leaders and community partners in Pinellas can collaborate on ways to address our region’s most pressing issues without leaving their neighborhood.

“We often look to the business and community leaders who serve on our Regional Councils to guide our work as a collaborator, convener and catalyst in bringing resources to local communities,” said Spalten.

In addition, local nonprofits can hold meetings at the Pinellas office, and use the Community Foundation’s virtual meeting technology.

Visit CFTampaBay.org/mentalhealth/ to learn more about Mental Health First Aid and the new Pinellas County office.

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