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Despite Uncertain Funding, Duval Nonprofit Moving Forward With Mental Health Pilot

Mental Health Resource Center

A Duval County mental health care program is set to begin treating patients in March, five months ahead of schedule.

The nonprofit in charge of creating the “central receiving system” is raising money to qualify for a $15 million state grant. But it’s not waiting to reach that goal before opening doors to patients.

Jacksonville’s Mental Health Resource Center was awarded the grant last year toreplicate a model pioneered in Miami. Advocates there created a special taxing district to create a central receiving facility, where law enforcement and family members could bring patients suffering with mental illness for stabilization and connection with long-term services.

In the absence of a dedicated funding source in Duval, Mental Health Resource Center CEO Bob Sommers said the state grant will help revamp two existing buildings and create a new one. But in order for the state money to kick in, he has to raise half the grant up front —$7.5 million total or $1.5 million per year.

OnWJCT’s “First Coast Connect” Monday, he said no matter the outcome of the fundraising campaign, the plan is moving forward.

“The comprehensive services center is something we believe so strongly in that we’re already going ahead and remodeling our outpatient area to accommodate it,” he said. “And we have some of our own funding that we’re going to use just to get it started on a pilot basis, hopefully in March of 2017.”

Though the system was originally set open in July, Sommers said he hopes opening sooner will drive more donations from the community and interest from City Hall.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, at (904) 358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.