The Flagler Access Center for Mental Health Resources will host the grand opening on January 11

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Flagler Access Center, which county officials say will provide much-needed mental health services to Flagler County residents, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 11, according to a county news release.

The Center — located at 103 E. Moody Blvd. in Bunnell and opening with county partners SMA Healthcare and Flagler Health+ – will provide an open door for education, screening and connection to behavioral health services in the area, according to the county.

“We are thrilled to be a partner in this initiative that will provide a connection to behavioral health care services for the citizens of Flagler County,” SMA Healthcare CEO Ivan Cosimi said in the press release. “We have been looking for ways to expand our range of services in the county, and we are confident that this partnership will allow us to do just that.”

The Flagler Access Center, which will provide Flagler County with much-needed mental health services, will have its ribbon cut on January 11.

In June, Flagler County officials received $245,000 from the state to create a mental health access point in the county, which was its top legislative priority for the session. The County Board of Commissioners then increased funding by $300,000 with funds made available by the federal government as part of the US bailout.

“Addressing behavioral health issues — including substance abuse and the suicide rate — has been a priority,” County Administrator Heidi Petito said in the statement. “This seed funding allows us and our private provider partners to operate this new center without immediate worries about grant writing or fundraising. This is an important first step towards achieving our goals for the community.

In 2020, 25 people died by suicide in Flagler County, according to the most recent data compiled by Florida Health Charts. This is a rate of 20.9 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. That number is up from the county’s 2019 rate of 19.3.

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Flagler County has one of the highest suicide rates in the state and is one of 17 counties in the fourth quartile for suicides, according to the state. This means suicide deaths occur more often in Flagler County than in 75% of Florida’s 67 counties.

Florida’s overall suicide death rate was 13.1 per 100,000 population in 2020.

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Services provided

All residents of Flagler County are eligible to receive services from the Flagler Access Center. All people who come to the center will be screened and referred to the appropriate services.

Some of these services include walk-in screenings; crisis response; coordination of care; and ties to the federal housing effort known as PATH (Projects to Help Transition Homelessness).

“Flagler County has advocated for a project of this nature and has come together to provide a convenient location for access to these much needed services,” said Cosimi, “Flagler Health+ will provide services for its ‘Be Resilient and Voice Emotions’ (BRAVE), which encourages young people to engage with mental health services early in life.

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The center will also use other social service providers in the county so care can continue after the person leaves the center.

A second phase of services – which will include mental health and addiction therapy – will eventually be offered at the Flagler Access Center once licensure for the new facility is obtained.

These services are currently provided by SMA Healthcare at 301 Justice Lane in Bunnell. Services for both are provided through individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, individualized treatment plans, and treatment plan reviews.

“This is an important milestone for Flagler County,” Petito said. “This will allow us to better serve everyone in the community.

The inauguration is open to the public and light refreshments will be served.

Nikki Ross covers K-12 education, health and COVID-19 for the Daytona Beach News-Journal. She can be reached at nikki.ross@news-jrnl.com or follow her on Twitter @nikkiinreallife.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Flagler Behavioral Health Center to Host Groundbreaking Jan. 11

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