September 9, 2018
To the Residents of St. Johns County and Neighboring Communities:
I am writing to you as both the CEO of Flagler Hospital and as a father.
As we are all painfully aware, mental health disorders affect the lives
of so many children in our communities. The recent violence at The Landing
here in Northeast Florida and in Parkland last school year are among the
most horrific nightmares any parent can imagine. My prayers go out to
the families of those who lost their lives and to all who have been affected
in any way.
I also pray for those families who are quietly struggling right now with
mental illness, and I want you to know that you are not alone. Like so
many of you, I have experienced first-hand the effects that mental health
disorders can have on a family. I share this vulnerability and pain. As
CEO of Flagler Hospital, I am committed to having an open dialogue aimed
at addressing this seriousissue. Often considered a taboo topic, especially
among our youth, we must bring this out in the open and have frank conversations
in order to change this dynamic.
There are no easy fixes for the complex problems linked with mental health,
but that does not mean finding answers is impossible. Flagler Hospital
is committed to pushing the quest for the necessary answers. We are already
working closely with the St. Johns County School District, Epic Behavioral
Healthcare, Children’s Home Society and Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral
Healthcare to tackle issues across the behavioral health spectrum. We
also look to our national partners to bring innovative programs, added
expertise and services to this collaborative effort for our local area.
As we travel this road, I encourage you to get involved. The St. Johns
County School District is hosting two events this month called “Parenting
for a Healthier Tomorrow”. Ten local agencies will be on hand to
address important issues like depression, anxiety, grief, suicide prevention
and community health. Please join us on September 20th from 6pm-8pm at
Liberty Pines Academy or September 27th from 6pm-8pm at Gamble Rogers
I am fortunate to lead an organization made up of talented caregivers who
understand, as I do, that helping others is what brings meaning to our
own most painful experiences. Greater awareness regarding the struggles
of those living with mental illness, especially our children, is one important
step toward providing help. We are committed at Flagler Hospital to ensuring
that these children and their families no longer suffer in solitude. Our
promise is to achieve critical strides in making treatment more available
for the communities we serve.
Jason Barrett, President & CEO