I’m your neighbor, a mom and a member of our beautiful community and my heart is broken and with every single one of you. There truly are no words to express the sadness brought by this horrific event. My children are older and away from home but as a mom I just can’t even begin to imagine the level of pain the teachers, parents and family members are feeling. I’m also an employee of Florida Blue, and we wanted to offer our support and help to our community. Florida Blue, in partnership with New Directions Behavioral Health, is offering bi-lingual grief support to those affected by this tragedy at no cost. We are providing community access to specially-trained behavioral health counselors via a 24-hour, toll-free help line: 800-843-6514. In-person counseling services are being offered at our Center located at 1970 Sawgrass Mills Circle, Sunrise, FL 33323. Both the help line and the in-person counseling services are free and available to all whether or not they are Florida Blue members.
We in the NAMI Florida network are saddened by the events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and our hearts go out to the students, families, teachers, and community affected by this tragedy. We can all agree it’s time for our state and nation to engage in much needed conversations around mental illness and protecting our youth from further tragedies. Click here for a statement from our national office. How can we help? We’re here to offer support to those people experiencing grief, increased feelings of anxiety, depression, or PTSD in the aftermath of this crisis. The following resources are available: NAMI has a national helpline available 10 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday at 1-800-950-NAMI. There is also a crisis text service available at 741741. Text “NAMI.” NAMI Florida’s Collier County affiliate operates a “warm line” for individuals with a mental illness who want to speak with someone who shares personal experience coping with mental health issues. Peer operators are available daily 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. by calling 1-800-945-1355. Many affiliates offer free, peer-led support groups and classes for individuals and families affected by mental illness. To find out if these programs are offered in your community, visit our website at www.namiflorida.org and click on “Local Affiliates.” Our affiliates also offer local helplines and referrals to area mental health resources in the community. Resource for first responders Members of the law enforcement community can benefit from a NAMI guide called “Preparing for the Unimaginable.” It assists law enforcement leaders in safeguarding the mental health and wellness of first responders following a tragic event. This guide was developed by a team including the US Department of Justice and NAMI following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in 2012. The guide can be found here. Resource for schools NAMI has a nationally recognized presentation for middle and high school students, parents, teachers and staff called Ending the Silence. It’s an engaging presentation that helps audience members learn about the warning signs of mental health conditions and what steps to take if you or a loved one are showing symptoms of a mental illness. NAMI Ending the Silence presentations include a lead presenter who shares an informative presentation and a young adult with a mental health condition who shares their journey of recovery. Audience members can ask questions and gain understanding of this often misunderstood topic. Ending the Silence is available to schools on a limited basis throughout Florida. We’d like to have resources to roll out more presentations in schools in the future. Click here to see a video about this presentation. Resource for the workplace NAMI Florida also has resources to assist businesses leaders, as mental illness is the top cause for worker disability. Our website has tips to help employers approach the subject of mental health in the workplace. Click here to learn more about our Stigma Free Florida program for workplaces. The stigma of mental illness NAMI Florida has been the voice for individuals and families affected by mental illness in our state for 30 years. We want to encourage students – or any individual — who experience the signs and symptoms of mental illness to speak up and get the support they need without fear of being stigmatized. Together, we can work toward meaningful solutions. NAMI Florida stands ready to assist. Our Board of Directors Dr. Fatimah Tahil – President Cindy Foster – Vice President Diana Schmidt – Second Vice President Kya Connor – Secretary Diana Williams – Treasurer April Chambers Paul Gormley Kelly Lesperance Cindy Schwartz Dr. Rajiv Tandon — Ex Officio Alisa LaPolt – Executive Director
Friends, Yesterday was a horrible day for Parkland, South Florida, and our nation. We are grateful for our first responders, local, state and federal law enforcement, and especially the teachers and staff who heroically fought to protect their students. We mourn the lives taken, and we will be here as a community for the families and for one another.
In this difficult time, I wanted to share resources that are available for anyone, especially students and families, struggling to cope with this trauma. These locations and helplines are currently open and have grief counselors on-site:
|Pine Trails Park Recreation Center and Ampitheater||10559 Trails End||Parkland, FL 33076|
|Coral Springs Gymnasium||2501 Coral Springs Dr||Coral Springs, FL 33065|
|Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts||2855 Coral Springs Dr||Coral Springs, FL 33065|
|Westglades Middle School||11000 Holmberg Rd||Parkland, FL 33076|
|CDC Disaster Distress Helpline||Call 1-800-985-5990||Text TalkWithUs to 66746|
|Broward County Distress Helpline||Call 2-1-1|
The FBI is seeking information regarding the shooting. Upload photos on the FBI’s website or call their anonymous tip line at 1-800-Call-FBI. Finally, our local blood center is asking donors with Type O-negative blood to donate. While initial blood needs for victims have been met, our local blood bank has said it needs to replenish our area’s available O-negative blood supply. Kind regards,