Im­prov­ing be­hav­ioral health

The Palm Beach Post - Neighborhood Post - Central Palm Beach County - - Front Page -

What does your agency do?

The Jerome Golden Cen­ter pro­vides care, com­pas­sion, and sci­en­tif­i­cally proven best prac­tices for men­tal health and sub­stance use dis­or­ders in Palm Beach County. Ac­cred­ited by the joint com­mis­sion and cer­ti­fied by Non­prof­its First for ex­cel­lence in non­profit man­age­ment, the cen­ter fills a deep need by serv­ing as the largest safety-net men­tal health provider for low­in­come and home­less peo­ple in Palm Beach County. Over 80 per­cent of the cen­ter’s 9,000+ clients have an­nual in­comes of $11,000 or less. How does your agency ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity?

While the cen­ter is open to all, com­mu­nity mem­bers who have nowhere else to turn — from the unin­sured to the home­less — come to the Jerome Golden Cen­ter for be­hav­ioral health care. Re­flect­ing the needs of our com­mu­nity, our cul­tur­ally di­verse, mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary staff works col­lab­o­ra­tively with part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tions to as­sist in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies to strengthen and pro­mote healthy devel­op­ment. What is your agency’s fo­cus for 2018?

Fund­ing is a con­stant strug­gle as the cen­ter tries to sup­port the com­mu­nity’s needs in 2018 and be­yond. The cen­ter is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that re­ceives sup­port from fed­eral, state, and county gov­ern­ments, but fund­ing con­tin­ues to shrink. In fact, ac­cord­ing to the Florida Pol­icy In­sti­tute, Florida’s per capita sup­port for men­tal health ser­vices ranks last in the na­tion at just $36.05 per per­son, less than one-third of the U.S. av­er­age of $125.90.

Phi­lan­thropy is crit­i­cal to sup­ple­ment other fund­ing sources. The best ex­am­ple is a sub­stan­tial $500,000 gift the cen­ter re­ceived from Palm Beach res­i­dent Dale Ben­jamin. Ben­jamin gave the gift in her son’s mem­ory — some­thing mean­ing­ful to help oth­ers and re­mem­ber her son who suf­fered from se­vere, chronic men­tal ill­ness that first struck when he was just a teenager. Her son was a client in the cen­ter’s res­i­den­tial pro­gram over 20 years ago. Dale’s gen­er­ous gift will help clients liv­ing in the cen- ter’s sup­ported hous­ing pro­grams achieve their high­est level of in­de­pen­dence through life skills train­ing and coach­ing to be­come more in­volved in the com­mu­nity and lead a ful­fill­ing life.

Other ar­eas in need of fund­ing are the cen­ter’s child telepsy­chi­a­try pro­gram to ex­pand re­sources serv­ing the com­mu­nity’s youngest mem­bers, and its res­i­den­tial co-oc­cur­ring pro­gram to treat adults with both men­tal ill­ness and sub­stance use di­ag­noses si­mul­ta­ne­ously. How can the com­mu­nity help?

The cen­ter needs more peo­ple like Ben­jamin to sup­port men­tal health through phi­lan­thropy at any level. Her words res­onate with so many who are try­ing to break the stigma of men­tal health and have it sup­ported like other im­por­tant health causes: “Have com­pas­sion for the men­tally ill; but for a brain ill­ness, they are just like you and me, with the same hopes, as­pi­ra­tions and needs.”

CON­TRIBUTED

CEO Linda De Pi­ano (sec­ond from left) stands with Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer Suresh Ra­j­para (left), Dale Ben­jamin and Bar­bara Golden, foun­da­tion chair, at the Jerome Golden Cen­ter for Be­hav­ioral Health.

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