TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Feb. 8, 2023 – The MolinaCares Accord (“MolinaCares”), in collaboration with Molina Healthcare of Florida (“Molina”), hosted a virtual panel on January 26 focused on the behavioral health and well-being of Floridians in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Although the catastrophic storm in September 2022 had a direct impact on southwest Florida, causing major flooding and wind damage in dozens of counties, its effects on the behavioral health of thousands of Floridians are serious and widespread.
The panel was hosted by Mike Jones, plan president of Molina Healthcare of Florida, with keynote remarks from Florida Representative Sam Garrison. Kimberly Moore, an award-winning Florida journalist who currently writes for Lkldnow, moderated the panel discussion. Participants included Melanie Brown-Woofter, president and CEO of the Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA), Melissa Larkin-Skinner, CEO of community provider Centerstone in Florida, and Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma.
“We as health care providers commend Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis for bringing the discussions about mental health to the forefront of all conversations and specifically those we are having in our industry,” said Jones. “These discussions have helped the health care industry look at the entire person and have challenged us to treat both the mind and body as a whole, and we at Molina are committed to doing just that.”
The panel discussion focused on documented research that shows events like hurricanes and other natural disasters can trigger old trauma and create behavioral or mental health problems in the future, specifically among first responders including law enforcement officers, paramedics, and health care providers. A study conducted by the University of Delaware found that overall suicide rates increased by 23% when compared to rates before a natural disaster. FBHA reports that mental health providers are still working with families affected by Hurricane Michael, which hit the Florida panhandle in 2018.
“As we come out of the pandemic, hurricanes and life in general, we see the real mental health needs of all Floridians are real and there is a lot of work to be done,” said Rep. Garrison. “It is important that we build and sustain resiliency, not only with bricks and mortar but by providing continued tools and support to the state’s behavioral health clinicians.”
The full panel discussion can be viewed here.
About The MolinaCares Accord:
Established by Molina Healthcare, Inc., The MolinaCares Accord oversees a community investment platform created to improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged populations by funding meaningful, measurable, and innovative programs and solutions that improve health, life, and living in local communities.
About Molina Healthcare of Florida:
Molina Healthcare of Florida has been providing government-funded, quality health care since 2008. The Company serves members through Medicaid, Medicare and Health Insurance Marketplace programs throughout Florida. Through its locally operated health plans, Molina Healthcare, Inc., a FORTUNE 500 company, served approximately 5.2 million members as of September 30, 2022. For more information about Molina Healthcare of Florida, visit MolinaHealthcare.com.