Improving behavioral health
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.”
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.