Quality of Life Team

In 2015, the number of individuals in Polk County living in poverty was 18.5% - 2% higher than the state average and over 3% higher than the national average. Poverty or a lack of income can have a profound effect on access to basic needs and services and there is often a trade-off or choice made to meet one need versus another. There is a diminished quality of life for those living in poverty with the detrimental effects ranging from poor nutrition and health to substandard housing and lower academic achievement.

Over the past two years, the Quality of Life Team focused its efforts on deepening their understanding of the contributing factors to poverty and the resources that are available in the community, as well as access gaps that low-income individuals and families are likely to encounter on the road to self-sufficiency. Specifically the Team hosted focus groups and LEAD forums on a variety of topics including Housing, Health, Hunger, and Elderly Services. The Team assisted in coordinating a “Poverty Simulation” along with eight other agencies in a UF/IFAS led educational event,  to help policy makers from around the county better relate to obstacles families face in addressing daily needs.

Moving forward, the Team will continue to build awareness in the community of poverty and related issues impacting our citizens quality of life. Plans are underway for a series of focus groups and LEAD forums on additional topics beginning with Behavioral Health.

Mind: What Matters?  Community Engagement Forum

Question 1. What is the difference between substance abuse & substance use? Which term is used now? Is it based on DSM?

See SubstanceUseAbuse.pdf Click Here.

Question 2. How does a parent recognize warning signs that differentiate between a young child acting out versus exhibiting more serious trouble?

Youth Mental Health First Aid addresses just this question.  I should add that Mental Health First Aid teaches us that something becomes a disorder if it affects the person’s ability to learn/work, have satisfying relationships, and to do activities of daily living like care for our hygiene, keep our house or room, prepare our meals, and so on.

Question 3. Mrs. Fleisher noted someone close encouraging someone else to seek mental health treatment. What about a stranger? Would the potential to sound accusatory be more harm than good?

It’s possible that we could help a stranger.  We could approach a stranger in a way similar to the way we ask someone close to us if they need help.  We could begin by asking, “Are you ok?  It looks like something might be bothering you.  Can I do something to help?”

Question 4.  What does CIT mean?

CIT stands for Crisis Intervention Team.  The standard for CIT  training is known as the Memphis Model. It is an innovative law enforcement based first responder program that has become nationally known as  pre-arrest jail diversion for those in a mental illness crisis. This program provides law enforcement based crisis intervention training for helping those individuals with mental illness.

Question 5. What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a Psychologist? How do you know which professional you need to see?

A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor with specialized training in adult and/or child psychiatry who can prescribe psychotropic medications. A Psychologist is a licensed individual with a doctoral degree who can perform psychological testing to determine a diagnosis, assess levels of psychological abilities, and help to determine course of treatment.

Question 6. My family member sees a psychiatrist but I don’t think he tells the doctor all his symptoms. Is there any way a family member can talk to the psychiatrist or send information to the doctor? 

Information can be sent to the Dr. but the Dr. cannot confirm the individual is a patient or engage in conversation about the patient unless the patient signs a release of information agreeing to others being able to discuss the patient’s condition with the Dr. If the patient is a minor then the legal guardian can discuss treatment with the Dr.

Question 7. Will the CIT teams work with all ages?

Yes, CIT training is effectively used with all ages.  Crisis Intervention Team trained officers frequently intervene with youth as well as adults.  In fact, once a CIT officer from the PCSO was called to the home of a teen who was in crisis.  The skills and compassion used by the officer during that crisis response and the resulting Baker Act turned a negative experience into a positive one.  The officer became a friend and mentor to that youth in the years that followed.

Question 8. How do we help family members of individuals struggling with behavioral health issues?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter in Polk County is a great resource for family members of people struggling with mental illness.  They have evidence-based programs for family members as well as for people living with mental illness.  There are NAMI members that also care for family members living with mental illness, and they know a lot of strategies for maintaining their own resiliency.  They can be reached at (863) 450-2943.  Al-Anon is a source of support for family members of people dealing with substance use problems, and they are at (863) 687-3800.  We can all be a source of support for family members of people dealing with behavioral health issues by continuing to listen and encouraging them that their family member can recover.

Question 9. How can we help individuals who are not Baker Act candidates but exhibit behavior out of the norm but are in strong denial they need professional help?

We learned from Dr. Risdon Slate and the other presenters that unfortunately it often does take people time to realize that they need help -- just like it may happen for many of us with other types of illnesses.  Change can be a long process for everyone.  We can encourage the person to talk to someone they trust, and offer to help.  So long as we remain patient and open, the person is more likely to come to us when they are in need, and when they are more ready.

Question 10. What should you do if someone in your home is exhibiting bizarre behavior?

If what you are observing suggests the person is at immediate risk of harm, call 911.  Calling 911 gets the first, closest available responder to make sure everyone is safe as quickly as possible.  If they or the other family members are not in immediate danger but still do not seem safe, you can call the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and ask for a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) - trained deputy to come and assess.  Law enforcement officers can determine if a person needs emergency admission to a detox unit or psychiatric facility for their safety, and can transport them there.  Keep in mind that these admissions are for safety, they are not for treatment, so they are short-term.

Question 11. Who can refer to the specialized community care team? Does the referral come from a Primary Care Physician? Can a social worker refer?

Anyone can refer to the Specialized Community Care Team. The phone number is (863) 291-3611.

Quality of Life Team

Genet Stewart Co-Chair, Heartland for Children 

Marcia Andresen – Co-Chair, Polk County BoCC

Jeff Bachelder – Warner University

Brad Beatty – Heart for Winter Haven

Penny Borgia – United Way of Central Florida

Marquinia Butts-Fisher – Healthy Start

Steve Chapman – READ Polk

Carol Fox – Lakeland Regional Health

Taylor Freeman - Florida Department of Health - Polk County

Bill Gardam - Peace River Center 

Laura Lee Gwinn – Community Volunteer

Daniel Haight – Lakeland Regional Health

Cathy Hatch – Polk County Board of County Commissioners

Linda Hawbaker – Florida Department of Health – Polk County

Susan Hurlburt - Community Volunteer 

Corlis Johnson – My Natures Delight

Joy Johnson – Polk County Board of County Commissioners

Rosemarie Lamm – Community Volunteer

Doug Leonardo - Bay care Behavioral Health 

Colleen Mangan – Florida Department of Health – Polk County

Meri Mass – Polk Arts Alliance

Carole McKenzie – Polk County Farm Bureau

Tim Mitchell  Parker Street MinistriesAndrea 

Andrea Nikolai - University of Florida IFAS 

Lauren Parkes  - Lakeland Regional Health

Angela Pulido  Lilly, O'Toole, & Brown

Rob Quam – Co-Chair, Lake Wales Care Center

Erica Sirrine – Southeastern University

Genet Stewart – Heartland for Children 

Steve Thompson  American Red Cross

Donn Vanstee - Tri County Human Services 

Jeff Ware - Winter Haven Hospital 

Robert Williams - Polk County Problem Solving Courts