West Palm Beach, Fla.– Palm Beach County foundations, system partners and community members have joined together to create a new initiative focused on advancing behavioral health for children and families. The recently launched BeWellPBC will dedicate its work to increasing and improving interagency coordination and alignment of behavioral health services and more widely engaging community members in innovative solutions.
Last year’s Parkland shooting and high profile suicides placed an important spotlight on behavioral health and the need for coordination at all levels of the community to ensure comprehensive care and promote behavioral wellness. Increasing rates for adult suicides and depression among youth, and Florida’s ranking as 49th in the nation for behavioral health funding, heightened the urgency for Palm Beach County funders and system partners to come together to create BeWellPBC.
Partners for the collective effort include Palm Health Foundation, Farris Foundation, Quantum Foundation, Children’s Services Council, Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network, Palm Beach County, United Way of Palm Beach County, the School District of Palm Beach County and the Health Care District of Palm Beach County.
The partners utilized both research and community involvement to create the structure and goals for BeWellPBC. A county-wide behavioral health needs assessment and strategic plan developed by the Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network served as the catalyst for the initial concept. Community summits hosted by Palm Health Foundation collected input from 120 individuals, including those who have lived experience in behavioral health, elected officials, and those who represent faith-based organizations, service providers and system partners.
Working with our local schools will be at the forefront of BeWellPBC’s work while engaging community residents, systems and sectors to strengthen the county’s behavioral health infrastructure. There will also be an emphasis on understanding and addressing equity barriers in behavioral health care. Specific goals include:
Palm Health Foundation will serve as the backbone organization and fiscal agent for BeWellPBC and will house the new entity at its West Palm Beach office. Lauren Zuchman, former executive director of Healthier Delray Beach, has been hired as BeWellPBC’s executive director. A Stewardship Council will govern BeWellPBC. Members are a blend of 50% providers, professionals, system partners, funders and elected officials and 50% residents who have been directly impacted by behavioral health issues or are leaders or influencers in their communities and neighborhoods.
“The partners and community members who created BeWellPBC have made a promise that collectively we can do better for Palm Beach County’s children and families,” said Patrick McNamara, president and CEO of Palm Health Foundation. “Behavioral health is everyone’s issue. It touches our entire community, regardless of socioeconomic status, age or education level. Our goal is to create a community culture in which every person thrives because they feel empowered, hopeful, supported and connected.”
BeWellPBC is already drawing national interest and support. ReThink Health, an initiative of the Ripple Foundation and a thought leader in the health philanthropy field, will provide free technical assistance and capacity building support over a two-year period as part of its pilot program, “Pathways for Transforming Regional Health.” The pilot is a model for accelerating large scale health-related change and is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“We know we have touched on a deep need by communities all over the country and hope to be a model of innovation and behavioral health transformation,” said McNamara.
About Palm Health Foundation
Palm Health Foundation is Palm Beach County's community foundation for health. With the support of donors and a focus on results, the foundation builds strong community partnerships, respects diverse opinions, advocates for its most vulnerable neighbors and inspires innovative solutions to lead change for better health now and for generations to come. The foundation supports health equity for Palm Beach County residents of all backgrounds, heritage, education, incomes and states of well-being. Palm Health Foundation has invested more than $78 million in Palm Beach County health since 2001. For more information about Palm Health Foundation, visit palmhealthfoundation.org or call (561) 833-6333.