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In addition to Sarasota’s 52,811 full-time residents1, the city is home to thousands of snowbirds and college students. Located in Sarasota County on the west coast of Florida, people flock to the community for its miles of sandy beaches and pristine, barrier islands that separate Sarasota Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to natural beauty, the city boasts several universities and campuses of higher education, including the Florida State University College of Medicine, Ringling College of Art and Design, the State College of Florida, and New College of Florida.

Mental Health Statistics
Mental health data for Sarasota County is compiled by the Florida Department of Health. The department reported that between 2010 and 2012, 18% of all deaths in Sarasota County were attributed to suicide, a rate that is significantly higher than the rate of 13.7% reported for the state2. In addition, more than 3,670 cases of domestic violence were reported in the county during that same time3. Of all county residents, over 10% reported having a physical or mental health issue that prevented them from completing normal, daily activities in any given 30-day period4.

Sarasota Is All about Kids
In 2005, Sarasota was awarded special funding for mental health care from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). As one of only six recipients, Sarasota was chosen for this grant because of its proven dedication and commitment to ensuring mental, social, and emotional health for all its citizens, but in particular, its children. The grant allowed the city to extend services provided under the Sarasota Partnership for Children’s Mental Health to include expanded provider networks, enhanced plans of care, and innovative initiatives such as the System of Care and Wrap Around services5. These unique services help Sarasota advocate care for its youngest residents and allow for a comprehensive continuum of care that acts as a long-term safety network for children in crisis.

Families can access help from the Sarasota Partnership for Children’s Mental Health through a variety of outlets, including medical professionals, school environments, childcare providers, and faith-based organizations. These institutions partner with the city and county to implement an individualized plan of care that is fundamentally different from traditional case management. By involving the families in their own treatment, families are better able to recognize areas of need and are empowered to develop their strengths. This family-centered focus is one of the things that set both Wrap Around and System of Care apart from other traditional family referral and monitoring systems.

In recognition of the need for easy access to resources and care, the city launched several online tools to help citizens find information about available services. All About Sarasota Kids is one such platform that allows parents and caregivers to find much-needed resources designed to strengthen the lives of children living in the community. Issues addressed through the site range from parenting support and education to reading readiness, play learning, and childhood obesity. Sponsored by the Early Learning Coalition’s Whole Child Project and United Way’s Success By 6, All About Sarasota Kids6 is just one of many family-focused mental health care outlets that helps this city’s families work through challenges and thrive.

1 U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Census Bureau. (2013). State & County QuickFacts: Sarasota, Florida. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/12/1264175.html

2 Florida Department of Health, Division of Public Health Statistics and Performance Management. (2013). Social and Mental Health; Suicides. Retrieved from http://www.floridacharts.com/charts/DataViewer/DeathViewer/DeathViewer.aspx?indNumber=0116

3 Florida Department of Health, Division of Public Health Statistics and Performance Management. (2013). Social and Mental Health; Domestic Violence. Retrieved from http://www.floridacharts.com/charts/OtherIndicators/NonVitalIndNoGrpDataViewer.aspx?cid=0312

4 Florida Department of Health, Division of Public Health Statistics and Performance Management. (2013). Social and Mental Health. Retrieved from http://www.floridacharts.com/charts/OtherIndicators/NonVitalIndNoGrpDataViewer.aspx?cid=0312

5 Florida Department of Mental Health, Sarasota County. (2007). The Sarasota Partnership for Children’s Mental Health. Retrieved from http://www.sarasotahealth.org/services/otherservices.htm

6 All About Sarasota Kids. (2013). All About Sarasota Kids, Homepage. Retrieved from http://www.allaboutsarasotakids.com