‘Critically important:’ Jacksonville city leaders launch new mental health initiative

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville city leaders marked the start of Mental Health Awareness Month with a new initiative that includes additional funding for local programs.


Mayor Donna Deegan kicked off Monday’s announcement with a statistic from the Florida Department of Health which shows Duval has a hospitalization rate for mental health that’s 13% higher that the state average.

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“Its critically important,” Dr. Christine Cauffield, the CEO of LSF Health Systems, said. LSF Health is partnering with the city on its new initiative. “We’ve tended to isolate mental health from physical healthcare. No longer can we do this — it’s an integrated system. Our body.”

Mental Health Matters Jax is a three-pronged initiative that includes funding to add two more staff members to United Way’s 988 Crisis Hotline which currently has a staff of 12 locally.

READ: Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office special unit pairs officers with mental health professionals

According to United Way, calls have increased to the center by 75% since 2022.

Mayor Deegan also announced more than $400,000 towards Angel Kids Pediatric to help provide mental health services to youth, which has become increasingly needed.

The city also launched a new website that lists out all available resources for those in need.

READ: Black men speak up about mental health barriers and resources on Capitol Hill

“This is an issue that we all need to get behind and pay attention to,” Mayor Deegan said.

City leaders will host a phone bank from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to answer questions about resources available to those in need. The number to call in on is 904-516-2551.

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