Behavioral Health Fair was a success

OKEECHOBEE — The theme of this month’s “Family Night” with The Okeechobee Children’s Mental Health System of Care group was a Children’s Behavioral Health Fair on Tuesday, March 26, sponsored by Publix and Okeechobee the Magazine. There were representatives from mental health agencies, the health department, Okeechobee County Fire Rescue and many others to offer their help, and the parking lot outside the Williamson building was packed with cars belonging to people who couldn’t wait to see what it was all about.

Make-A-Wish Southern Florida was there to explain why wishes matter and how the community can help. They believe wishes matter because “wishes change the odds for children fighting their illness. A wish helps kids look past their limitations, families overcome anxiety and entire communities experience joy. Most importantly, wishes can improve a child’s quality of life.” By joining them in their endeavor, they say you can positively impact the life of a child while enriching your own. Martha Carmen is the medical and community outreach coordinator for this area, and her contact number is 561-703-0151, or you can reach her by email at mcarmen@sflawish.org. Make-A-Wish Southern Florida covers 22 counties from Key West to Indian River, and their goal in coming to the fair was to get the word out because they feel not everyone knows about them or knows how to contact them. It’s not federally funded so immigration status is not an issue. They want to close the gap and grant the wishes of all children who qualify, said Karen Mullins, vice-president of mission delivery.

Lake Okeechobee News/Cathy Womble
Courtney Moyett, tobacco prevention specialist, and Daniel Rickards, executive director of OSAC, are demonstrating the differences between healthy and unhealthy pig lungs.

New Horizons Treatment Center had a table there and one of the things they talked about was their mobile crisis response team (MCRT). The purpose for MCRTs is to help those who are either experiencing a crisis or who may be on the verge of one to obtain immediate assessment and referral for services. They said you should use their services when you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis, a situation seems out of control and you need immediate help from mental health professionals, you or someone you know is thinking of or threatening self-harm or there is neglect due to mental illness. You can reach the MCRT by calling 772-468-3909 or 772-672-8470. They can also be reached online at nhtcinc.org.

The Okeechobee Substance Abuse Coalition (OSAC) and Quit Doc had a table together because both groups are working to end the use of tobacco, among other things. OSAC had a display of pig lungs, one of which was healthy, and the other was blackened and sickly. When he attempted to pump air into the sick lung, it would not inflate. Daniel Rickards, executive director of OSAC, can be reached at 863-697-1993, and Courtney Moyett, tobacco prevention specialist, can be reached at 866-355-QUIT.

Many other groups were represented such as Okeechobee County Fire Rescue, who brought a remote control firetruck driven by Patches, the Dalmatian; Florida Community Health Centers, who did blood pressure checks; Sequel Care, who told of their mental health and targeted case management for children and adults; Florida Kid Care; Cleveland Clinic-Vero; Camelot Community Care, who were doing foster care recruitment; Tykes and Teens; two school nurses were there teaching about stress management; Indian River State College had printouts of the degree programs in the mental health field; Hibiscus Children’s Center talked about the programs they offer; and there were many more.

If you are not attending the Family Nights offered by The Okeechobee Children’s Mental Health System of Care, you are missing out. They really care about Okeechobee’s children, and every month they go all out to show it.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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