The Outcome: Mental Health Taxing District

The Sarasota County Commission agreed to move forward on exploring Sarasota County as a mental health taxing district. So while the time will come to raise your voice on this issue again, for now, it is a time to be grateful.

Thank you for raising your voice. You were heard, and it is so incredibly important. Your voice matters- and so does all of our mental health.

“Mental health is our last line of defense. If our last line of defense breaks – so do we.”*

If we are not mentally strong enough to deal with adversity, we turn to physical means of coping: addiction, violence, anger. Pick your vice. So by investing in a community coordinated and funded mental health system – we are truly creating a system of prevention in every sense of the way.

By preventing and managing mental health, we are preventing and managing overdoses, shootings, domestic violence…and so many more negative outcomes of an under funded mental health system.

The reason I care about mental health so much is because it affects every outcome. I am a data-driven, correlation-curious, outcome-obsessed human being. My heart beats to the rhythm of understanding why people are the way they are, and my blood boils when I do not have that explanation.

It’s why I studied public policy over business or public administration. Because the history of our country is an explanation of why we are the way we are; political science is our cultural DNA.

So while I will never be a politician, I am equipped to focus on systems change. And I can do it through a thorough understanding of social behavior, and identifying the root causes that led to those actions…or outcomes.

I share this so I can highlight the most fascinating piece of knowledge I harbor:

What happens to our bodies as adults is largely a result of what happened to our brains as children.

LITERALLY.

What happened to you as a child – and how your brain responded to it – dictates your health as an adult. The younger the brain, the more damaging the effects.  

Not just your mental health. Your physical health.

We can’t control what happened to us as kids. We can’t even control what happens to kids now.

What we CAN control is how we can support each other – and our kids – to bounce back.

Thanks to your voice, our County Commission is making that control possible. Thanks to your voice, the physical, mental, and social emotional health of our community has a fighting chance to be better than it is today. And thanks to your voice, nonprofits that hold decades of knowledge will be empowered to turn that knowledge in to action, progress and…outcomes.

So let me tell you. Those outcomes…they aren’t a section on a report, or numbers that we can be proud of.

They are:

Healthy mamas…and healthy babies…and healthy futures.

-They are kids who have the tools and literal brain power to deal with the ugly hand that life may deal to them.  They are parents who didn’t have those tools as children themselves, but now can.

-They are people who turn to each other instead of drugs; people who feel heard.  

-They are a decrease in high-risk behaviors and poor health outcomes.

-They are evolution at its best. Literally, toxic stress and trauma changes the brain, and there is research that shows that DNA change can be passed on to their children.

These outcomes – it doesn’t take rocket science to achieve them. In fact, it doesn’t take science at all. While science is required to truly understand the problem, it isn’t needed to implement a solution.

In fact, science and experience tell us that the most protective barrier against trauma, toxic stress, and adverse experiences…is one single adult; one healthy relationship with someone who can help to navigate situations as they occur.

I was taught in grad school to cite a source when a statement isn’t common knowledge…so I am not going to cite this (but I do encourage you to fact check me.)

Let’s make it common knowledge:  The most protective factor against trauma is a caring, supportive adult.

So imagine what happens when a community of adults – like you – come together? Thanks to your voice – we are about to find out.  

*I did not cite the top part, because I heard it straight from a monk today. More to come on my mindfulness with a monk, but trust me when I say…he speaks the truth.

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