In 2012, WGA Members decided to maximize impact by selecting one focus area for several years. Members’ interest in mental health (2012-2016) grew from WGA research, which showed that Florida ranks 49th in per capita spending for mental health. In November of 2016, WGA granted Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) $100,000, which has allowed JFCS to provide a sliding fee scale to individuals and families for mental health counseling. Thanks to the WGA, JFCS has been able to provide mental health services to 86 women and girls ranging from the ages of 10-70.
JFCS shared a story with us about a 16-year-old girl who had recently moved to Jacksonville. In her previous home, this young woman attended a local high school where she had “trouble with mean girls.” This lead to panic attacks and her beginning to cut on herself. When she told her mother that she was having suicidal thoughts, her mother moved her and her sister to Jacksonville to escape an abusive environment at school and at home. A psychological evaluation was required for her enrollment in her new Jacksonville school, but unfortunately was not available until two months later.
Thanks to JFCS she began attending therapy, where she and her therapist worked on addressing the social anxiety that had riddled her life since elementary school, her depressed mood which was associated with her isolation, and her past trauma from verbal and physical abuse. Because of the work she did in therapy her counselor was able to advocate for her to be allowed to attend high school prior to getting the psychological evaluation. Thanks to the help she received from JFCS, she is now enjoying her new school, learning, and meeting new friends.