Mental Illness

First Coast Connect: The Brit Rose Foundation

Jul 6, 2016
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Brittney Rose Serpa was a young, beautiful, and bubbly 18-year-old excitedly making plans for her freshman year at Ole’ Miss when she became a victim to cyberbullying. She also had struggled with mental illness since her early teens.

On a Monday, a complete stranger began the attack, and by Thursday she had taken her own life. Her mother, Tori Serpa of Jacksonville Beach, decided to turn her family's tragedy into a movement to help others by founding the Brit Rose Foundation.

Chasing the Dream

The deplorable conditions at the local low-income housing project Eureka Gardens captured national headlines when it came to light residents were living with dangerous mold, leaky gas pipes, and dilapidated stairs.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Anyone who’s walked through Five Points recently might have seen the painter with a jarring sign hanging above him. Next to a colorful mural, it reads:  “I have borderline personality disorder. I used to manage with heroin. Now I make art.”


The results of a recent survey conducted by PBS NewsHour and Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion point to a contrast in opinions along racial lines about the opportunities available today for African Americans. We discuss the state of race relations in America with Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder, UNF associate professor of sociology and race expert.


The state Department of Children and Families has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Florida and move toward providing more options for people who are mentally ill to live in their communities instead of in state mental hospitals.

The advocacy group sued the department on the grounds that Florida was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing enough community placements for people who were ready to be discharged from mental hospitals overseen by DCF.

As the nation marks Mental Health Month, we speak with Denise Marzullo, President & CEO of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida, about what can be done to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and how the "100 Portrait Project" photography exhibition aims to spark a community conversation about the topic.

As the U.S. works to normalize relations with Cuba, we speak with John Caulfield, retired American diplomat and former Chief of Mission with the US Interests Section in Havana, about what we could expect in the coming months in years for the island nation. As Havana’s senior U.S. diplomat, Caulfield achieved agreements on immigration, environmental protection, civil aviation and cultural exchange; championed the aspirations of ordinary Cubans to increase their political rights and economic opportunities in a difficult environment.  

Eva Rinaldi / Wikimedia Commons

The death of actor and comedian Robin Williams has unleashed a tide of emotion and discussion about how we deal with issues of mental illness in this country.