Why we’re forging solutions to food insecurity, mental health needs

Pastor Carolyn Albert of Faith Deliverance House of Worship facilitates the church's farm share event Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

Numerous studies have made it clear that food insecurity is linked to increased rates of depression and anxiety. Undoubtedly, when one of your most fundamental needs – for nutritious food – goes unmet, your mental health suffers. That’s why Florida’s seven Managing Entities, which oversee Florida’s behavioral health safety net system, are partnering with Farm Share, Florida’s largest independent food bank, to address both issues.

Under the partnership, a card will be included in each bag of food distributed at Farm Share events. The card provides important information on how to contact a Managing Entity to connect with mental health and substance use disorder providers that accept clients who have no health insurance. Behavioral health services include treatment for mental health issues and substance use disorder, as well as “wraparound services” like transportation, childcare, employment, and more.

Florida’s seven local Managing Entities work with a network of over 300 behavioral health care providers, who deliver services to more than 300,000 of Florida’s most vulnerable residents – including children, expectant mothers, veterans, and the chronically homeless.

Children line up to grab fruit from the Farm Share booth during Children's Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020.

We recognize that food insecurity and poor mental health are interrelated, which is why we’re raising awareness about behavioral health services at food distribution events. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has long recognized access to food as a social determinant of health. NAMI acknowledges that food insecurity can lead to mental health issues and, conversely, that untreated mental health issues can impair a person’s ability to find and keep a job and access food.

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