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distressA new assessment of behavioral health needs in Central Florida showed an increase in the “average number of unhealthy mental days” in Brevard County from 3.4 per month in 2007 to 3.7 in 2010.
It also said Brevard had the highest suicide rate of the four counties in 2012, with a rate of 20.3 per 100,000 residents.
“It showed that providers believe there is a strong need for more crisis intervention and crisis stabilization services,” said Libby Donoghue, 2-1-1 Brevard executive director. She attended a presentation of the report Friday in Cocoa. “Not surprisingly, the No. 1 barrier providers cited was money.”
The assessment was conducted by the Health Council of East Central Florida for Central Florida Care Health System. CFCHS oversees mental health and substance abuse treatment paid for by the state under contract with the Department of Children and Families.
Read the full report here.


Google Analytics recorded 2,642 visits to 2-1-1 Brevard’s community resource database in September 2014 compared with September 2013. That’s an increase of 676 visits or 34 percent.
September 2014 Snapshot


Children are at the heart of why many people call 2-1-1: They want to improve and protect the quality of life of the little ones.
“That makes the Florida Department of Children and Families’ campaigns to prevent childhood deaths even more near and dear to our hearts,” said Libby Donoghue, 2-1-1 Brevard executive director.
Callers’ needs may be basic – such as food and shelter – or emotional. For example, 2-1-1 specialists logged 273 callers in need of referrals related to “child abuse prevention/parent education” and 159 callers in need of safe, affordable day care.
Watch the Florida DCF’s four campaign videos – including “Who’s REALLY Watching Your Child?” – at 2-1-1’s new YouTube playlist by clicking here or on image. Click here to learn more about the campaigns.


About 30 people gathered at Florida Today on Thursday, Oct. 9, to talk about mental illness in Brevard. They were professionals, as well as people who told personal stories about the devastating effects.
This was the first step in a partnership between the newspaper and 2-1-1 Brevard to raise awareness and look for solutions.
“People were honest and open,” said Belinda Stewart, 2-1-1 communications manager, who invited the participants. “At the end, people kept saying over and over that we needed to get together again because they were so encouraged by the discussion.”
Click here to read newspaper coverage.

  • More than 15,000 calls to 2-1-1 in the past fiscal year dealt with “basic needs.” The most – 4,090 – were about struggles pay utility bills. Next was food.
  • At least 3,768 calls came from the 32935 ZIP code in Melbourne, more than from any other ZIP in Brevard County. Next was 32780 in Titusville.
  • At least 61 percent of more than 38,000 calls answered came from females.

Read the new annual report here or contact communications manager Belinda Stewart for more information.


Beginning of suicide column2-1-1 Brevard communications manager Belinda Stewart’s column on Sept. 12 in Florida Today kicked off a partnership to raise awareness of mental illness in Brevard County.
Since the column (READ IT HERE) was published, the date of Oct. 9 was selected for a roundtable discussion among experts – from professional or personal experience.
“I was thrilled that people who saw the column contacted me with an interest in participating,” Stewart said. “Plus, people are readily accepting our invitation.”

Those planning to attend so far include:
• Orville Clayton, mental health director, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office
• Gail Cordial, executive director, Florida Partners in Crisis
• Dr. Barry Hensel, vice president of clinical services, Circles of Care
• Jean McPhaden, executive director, Brevard Drop-In Center
• Dr. Lori Parsons, executive director, Family Counseling Center of Brevard
• Dr. Beth Thedy, assistant superintendent, Brevard Public Schools

For more information, contact Stewart via email or at 321-631-9290, ext. 224.

The text of the Sept. 12 column follows:
Suicide first touched my life while I was in college in the early 1980s, when my grandmother found the body of a young man she had helped care for since his childhood – dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
He had struggled for years, but who could believe it would end so tragically?
I feel lucky, if you can call it that, because I didn’t shed uncontrollable tears over a suicide again until last month, when a close friend’s adult son chose to end his pain – less than a week after the death of Robin Williams.
Again, there were years of heartache leading up to that day. He had posted on Facebook about the iconic comedian a few days before, and his family knew he was in trouble and had tried to help.
But suicide?
As we mark National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 8-14), I am compelled both personally and professionally to do what I can to spread the word about the support available for those battling depression and thoughts of suicide.
Thankfully, Florida Today editors and reporters share my conviction about awareness of mental illness: They’ll partner with 2-1-1 Brevard, which offers 24-hour crisis intervention via the three-digit dialing code. (That’s where I work as communications manager.)
We plan to convene a roundtable of local experts to layer the discussion with a range of perspectives and opinions. Our target date will be during Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 5-11), so contact me via email at if you would like to participate.
Then the journalists will take over to formulate a list of priorities for in-depth pursuit over the coming months – likely culminating in May, when we recognize Mental Health Awareness Month (emphasis on “health,” a positive word).
Topics related to mental illness that might be explored include: demographics and statistics, toll on families, health insurance, criminal justice, homelessness, local resources and financial cost to society.
We won’t know the details until after we get together and talk, which brings to mind another high-profile suicide that came back into the news with the recent death of another comedic icon.
Joan Rivers lost her husband and the father of her only child to suicide more than 25 years ago and openly expressed ongoing anger at him. She didn’t shy away from difficult topics, including Edgar Rosenberg’s death by intentional overdose.
Her signature question for decades: “Can we talk?”
My answer in 2014: Yes.
Talking and listening are keys to suicide prevention and treatment of mental illness. Let’s keep the private and community conversations going.
Belinda Stewart is the communications manager at 2-1-1 Brevard Inc. and a former journalist who spent most of a decade at Florida Today. Contact her at 321-631-9290, ext. 224, or Find 2-1-1 Brevard on Facebook and Twitter (@211Brevard).


In August 2014, helpline specialists at 2-1-1 Brevard logged 94 calls as “suicide prevention/intervention.” That’s up from 29 in August 2013.
August 2014 Snaphot


Update: Chat ended Oct. 2. A donation of at least $5,000 is needed to resume the service. 

2-1-1 Brevard’s pilot program to allow “chat” interaction between helpline specialists and those who are seeking help will end next week (Oct. 2), unless additional funding is received.

“Chat” is available 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays by clicking here.
In addition to information and referral, crisis intervention is offered through online chat during the same hours each week. If chat is not available, dial 2-1-1.

Helpline specialists are available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The pilot was paid for through a grant from Community Foundation for Brevard. Support to continue or resume offering chat is being solicited. For information, call 631-9290, ext. 224.


logoFor September, 2-1-1 Brevard staff visited the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Economic Self-Sufficiency Office in Rockledge.
David Jeczala, DCF community partner liaison for the 18th Judicial Circuit, talked about eligibility for assistance, including food stamps, and the methods for application. Then the group visited the ACCESS center in Byrd Plaza in Cocoa, where applicants can use computers, telephones and document scanners.
2-1-1 Brevard made 1,259 referrals to DCF in 2013, most for food stamps.
Next up: Serene Harbor Domestic Violence Center.

Stephanie Bryant of Brevard County Community Action Agency.

Stephanie Bryant of the Brevard County Community Action Agency.

Other agencies visited this year:

Original post: Bread and pastries free for the taking on table in the lobby. Boxes of cereal, cans of beans, bottles of shampoo in a storage room in the back. Rooms with bunks and trundle beds and just a few homey touches like a rug or a  quilt.
Four staff members of 2-1-1 Brevard spent part of a recent afternoon touring and learning more about the Salvation Army of Melbourne, where specialists made 3,045 referrals in the past fiscal year.

Pridmore Center room

One of the eight sleeping rooms at the Salvation Army’s Pridmore Center for Women and Children.

Salvation Army Facebook

The “field trip” was the first of a monthly series of site visits to agencies that receive high numbers of referrals from 2-1-1 Brevard.

“The more we know about an agency, the better we can make appropriate referrals,” said Christina Lefler, the helpline supervisor who was among the staff members on the tour.

“After we’ve visited a location and talked face to face with staff, we can better understand what they can and can’t do.”

Communications Manager Belinda Stewart is in charge of setting up the site visits as part of her role in promoting positive community relations.

“Salvation Army South is third on our list of most-frequent referrals with almost 7 percent of all referrals last year,” Stewart said. “So it was an obvious pick for one of our first visits.”

2-1-1 staff toured the Social Services area, including the food pantry, and the Sue M. Pridmore Center for Women and Children.

“We like to thank Capt. Juan Guadalupe and his staff, especially supervisor Joyce Cox, for welcoming us and letting us know how much they value our partnership in helping people,” Stewart said.

More referrals were made last year to Catholic Charities and Brevard County’s Community Action Agency, where visits are scheduled in March and April, respectively.

Learn more about the Salvation Army of Melbourne on the web and Facebook.


By The Numbers

  • 38,071: Number of calls answered in 2013-14
  • 43,434: Number of referrals made in the year
  • 15,132: Calls related to basic needs, such as food
  • 25,100: Number of visits to online database


Check out 2-1-1 mobile app

2-1-1 Brevard has a free app for searching our online database from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. You can download from iTunes. The version for Android devices is being developed. Click Here to Learn More