Leadership Engage: Our Community Needs To Focus on Mental Health Services

Leon Fooksman
Leadership Palm Beach County
November 23, 2015

Do we have a mental health crisis in Palm Beach County?


During the recent Health and Human Services Day, our 2016 Leadership Engage class learned about the challenges facing the nonprofits that serve individuals in need of mental health services. While there are many agencies helping this population, there’s a dearth of funding to support their work.


Class member Matthew Sackel describes in a recap of the day what can be done to address this issue.


There are a staggering number of individuals in need of mental health services in Palm Beach County; arguably there is a mental health crisis in Palm Beach County that is a microcosm of the national crisis.  However, the number of agencies that exist to address the mental health crisis is quite impressive as well as the interventions they employ to attempt to address this very complex issue.


Despite the number of non-profits in Palm Beach County and the number of services they provide, they complement each other and coordinate their efforts to serve those in need.  Unfortunately, these agencies are underfunded.  The Legislature is aware of the tremendous funding shortfalls, but awareness is not enough.  We need to write to our state legislators and push them to increase funding to these organizations that serve an important role in the community.


While there is no one solution to addressing issues regarding the mental health crisis, awareness is key and with awareness is the responsibility to make a difference.  I have resided in the County for 8 years and only learned through Leadership Palm Beach County about 211--a critical service that provides resources to those in need.  There are soup kitchens, homeless coalitions, centers for abused woman, and centers to assist those who were subject to human trafficking (just to name a few) that need volunteers and funds—it is our responsibility to make the community aware of these resources (AVDA, Place of Hope, The Lords Place, El Sol), to volunteer time to assist these non-profits, and to improve access to these resources.


Matthew Sackel, a partner at Shutts & Bowen LLP, is a member of the Leadership Engage Class of 2016