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    Be Hopeful with Patrick McNamara

    Patrick McNamara, president and CEO of Palm Health Foundation, shares his perspective on BeWellPBC’s role in systems change, the work to transform Palm Beach County’s behavioral health system of care.”I think most people would agree that our county has a complex behavioral health system. We’re not unlike many other communities that have evolved over time to become a patchwork of services driven by power dynamics and economics. We don’t always include the voice of the people we design services for, and in a state where Florida is 50th in the nation for per capita mental health spending, providers are focused on survival, making them risk averse to change. BeWellPBC was created to be a system change agent. Here are four ways their role is integral to transforming behavioral health.”

    1. Fostering greater interdependence.

    Through BeWellPBC, funders of behavioral health services are seeing themselves as stewards of shared community resources rather than siloed investments each organization makes on its own (see ReThink Health example below). We are building our civic muscle with BeWellPBC at the helm to facilitate meaningful collaboration. 

    2. Encouraging risk-taking. 

    Interdependence fosters strength and resilience to take shared risks through “safe to fail” initiatives. BeWellPBC asks three questions: What can we change? Of the things we can change, can we monitor impact? Can we rapidly amplify successor recover from failure?

    3. Moving to a family-centered, recovery-oriented system of care.

    Behavioral health has struggled with how to integrate the informal resources of friends, family, faith and people with lived experience. BeWellPBC is honoring the voice of the community and providing a wider lens that includes not only mental illness, but mental wellness.

    4. Facilitating new solutions.

    There are many well-intentioned, fragmented community collaborative efforts. BeWellPBC has a seat at every table and acts as an aggregator and a promotor of inclusivity. BeWellPBC helps to bring form to new solutions that are currently in the works. BeWellPBC is a true convener.


    Be Compassionate with Devon Lewis-Buchanan

    In Florida, there is one mental health provider for every 670 residents, making our state 42nd in the country for mental health workforce availability.  Devon Lewis-Buchanan, founder and CEO of Inspired Youths and a recent recipient of a Master’s in Social Work, is taking aim at this startling statistic as a member of BeWellPBC’s Workforce Pipeline Action Team. 


    Q:  How is the team developing paths to employment in the behavioral health field?

    A: We are creating ways to attract, develop and retain a skilled and diverse labor force to support community health and prosperity.  We have to help people understand what the track looks like and where they fit best in the field.  We’re taking a strategic look at how we can best guide people to the experience and education they need for a wide range of career options from direct service to organizational change. 


    Q:  Where do you think there is the most opportunity for growing the workforce?

    A:  We need to get ahead of the curve for addressing the demographics of our population.  Diversity among providers who can increase cultural competencies in the field and meeting the needs of our aging population are two important areas.  Targeting younger people to come into the field will bring new and innovative ideas for how we can best serve residents.


    Q:  How will this work help support your own mission at Inspire Youths?

    We are supporting each other to grow behavioral health resources in the county.  Inspire Youths is sparking young minds to look at the field, to see what they can do with a specific degree and how they can be the next generation of advocates who will bridge the gap in eliminating the stigma of mental health in under-served communities.


    Q:  What workforce pipeline project are you most excited about?

    A:  We are working with the Palm Beach County School District to develop a pilot curriculum for high school students to graduate with a behavioral health technician certification.  Students would leave school with a behavioral health job that is in high demand, pays a decent wage and will hopefully inspire them to continue pursuing higher degrees in the field.  We’re focused on that as well by encouraging scholarships, fellowships and opportunities for employees to grow within their organizations. 


    Q:  What are your hopes for Palm Beach County and BeWellPBC?

    A:  I hope BeWellPBC becomes a model that is implemented in other communities.  I would love for Palm Beach County to be a beacon for how we go about looking at behavioral health and asking, “What can we do?  What can we change?”


    Be You with Margaret Newton

    Margaret Newton, A Force for Change in Education

    Margaret is a member of BeWellPBC’s Stewardship Council who holds an important place in the Black history of Palm Beach County. Twelve years ago, she was appointed by the school district to develop the curriculum for all classrooms to teach African and African American studies, the first of its kind in the state of Florida. As an educator for twenty years, and now a district volunteer, Margaret recognized how important the curriculum was for the mental health of children of color and how they see themselves.

    Q: How did you see the connection between the curriculum you developed and children’s mental health?

    Margaret: Children need to be involved in learning about themselves. Before, people of color were left out as examples of what makes American great. Black leaders who fought for our freedoms. People of color who invented things that we use every day. There was little understanding of Blackness. It’s very important that children know that they are worthy and that they are here on earth for a purpose. They can be proud human beings because they are Black.

    Q: When did you see a breakthrough as a result of teaching African and African American studies?

    Margaret: A number of years ago, the leader of the Roots Cultural Festival of Delray Beach that celebrates black heritage came to me and asked about putting one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa on event T-shirts. We had been teaching about it in the schools and I saw that the request was a direct result from helping to inform the district and the community. The shirts were printed with the Swahili word “umoja,” which means unity.

    Q: What do you see in this moment as history plays out before our eyes and its impact on mental health?

    Margaret: I see chaos for a while to mentally understand what is going on. It takes a while to change minds, but I see a solidarity in the Black community. I see a solidarity in the younger generation of all colors. They are giving me hope. We are now shaping and reshaping the moral aspects of America, and our mental health is being changed from obeying laws to obeying because morally it is the right thing to do. Black Lives Matter points to the deaths saying that morally it is wrong to kill and they are going after the mental image that the country has of different populations—and the image we have of ourselves. If there is a mass shooting, my first thought is, “I hope he wasn’t Black.” I have been schooled if a Black person does something wrong that all of us are to blame.

    Q: How can people get involved and learn more about African and African American culture?

    Margaret: They can join me for the Sankofa Study Group Inc., where I serve as president. We are a diverse group of 50 people who study all aspects of the African diaspora and meet the last Saturday of each month on Zoom. We are currently reading Stamped from the Beginning.  To join, contact Pyramid Books at 561-731-4422 and ask for Denise. All are welcome!


    Be Connected with Annie Ifill

    The Glades is Getting its Green On!

    Antoinita (Annie) Ifill, Project Director for Healthier Glades, and a team of community leaders organized the first-ever resident-led Get Your Green On in the western communities. By engaging people who live and work in the Glades and conducting resident surveys, Annie and her team from BRIDGES, the Federation of Families and PBC Youth Services created activities for the community to heal while recognizing the qualities that make the Glades a special place, including:

    ·        “Soil to Soul,” a program connecting nature with nurturing for youth who plant seeds in self-decorated pots and talk monthly about their growing experiences.  

    ·        Movie night featuring Disney’s Soul, the first Pixar film to feature an African American protagonist.

    ·        A four-part mental health learning series on Facebook Live with topics chosen by the community covering stress and anxiety, grief and loss, trauma and depression.

    ·        Mental Health First Aid trainings for youth and adults.

    ·        An online screening of the documentary The Mask You Live In with a panel discussion to follow. (See more about this event and register below!)

    “Being part of the GYGO countywide committee helped us create our own events close to home that were driven by the ideas and needs of Glades residents,” said Annie.

    Annie’s Mental Health Tips for Right Now

    1.      Have patience. Others may not be in the same place as you for returning to “normalcy.”

    2.      Go slow. Take your time reconnecting with people in small groups, safely.  

    3.      Count your blessings. Recognize COVID’s losses but appreciate life’s good things to heal.


    Tech Savvy Wellness Solutions for Seniors

    The goal of the program is to implement a practical model that addresses isolation and loneliness among senior residents. This grant will provide assistive technology-based interventions and training to seniors to improve communication and social connections with their families and the community.


    I See You

    The project will provide education on trauma and how it affects the lives of African Americans. This project will serve as a way to provide a safe outlet where men can come together and feel safe sharing with each other and learning new ways to deal with emotion, trauma and other internal issues that are taboo to the African American community.


    Sharing Survival Stories Saturday

    “Sharing Survival Stories Saturday” will target families living in homelessness. There are three components to the program: 1) prevention/diversion 2) shelter and 3) stabilization. Eight times within twelve months, Family Promise will host a speaker, a single mother who has survived the challenges of being homeless. The outcome will be that mothers in the program will gain strength and motivation.


    In The Garden with Tabernacle

    The garden is a raised bed and container community garden organized, planted, and harvested by the community and distributed freely to the homeless and residents living in the food desert which encompasses the historical Northwest Neighborhood. The garden produces fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers for the benefit of residents in order to provide food security, nutrition education, and mental health respite.


    “Sister to Sister” Project

    The project advances the behavioral health and wellness of 50 black and brown women who are first-time college students.
    Motivational speakers engage students in a series of health education topics through collaborative activities, video tutorials, and mental health counseling. Life skills sessions are conducted by the Student Counseling Center and Academic/Student Services Advisors, empowering participants and impacting the community.


    Celebrating Diversity

    Palm Beach County youth ( ages18-25), impacted by homelessness, will come together to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion through artistic expression. This project will nurture wellness via youth showcasing, facilitating, and promoting diversity aimed to unite, bring awareness, and educate the community. Youth will work on projects throughout the year leading to a month-long celebration in June 2021 (Pride month, Juneteenth celebration, and a multicultural performance and art showcase).