The mission of Here Tomorrow, which opened in late 2021, is to transform lives by building a community where mental health care is acceptable and accessible. In other words, stigma has been eradicated from their program.
In Florida, suicide deaths have nearly doubled over the past 20 years. In addition, the rates for Duval and St. Johns counties are higher than the national average.
It defies logic that people with a medical condition can stay in a hospital as long as necessary, while those with a mental disorder are limited to 72 hours. From firsthand experience, we can tell you that is not enough time and timely follow-up care is simply unavailable, which often proves disastrous.
Barriers to mental health care include wait lists, insurance issues and a national shortage of mental health practitioners. The Here Tomorrow folks can provide same-day support, a response time that can make the difference in success or failure. Plus, many services are free of charge.
But the key to this organization’s success is the staff.
Services are delivered by highly trained and certified peer support specialists. Many of them are people with a “lived experience” who understand what others in crisis are going through, because they have been there themselves.
The average cost to serve one “friend” for a year is $1,695.44, and that’s with an average of over 400 calls received per week. Local hospitals quote a cost for a three-day in-patient stay at around $6,000.
Here Tomorrow is receiving support grants from several organizations, including a three-year challenge from J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver to match every gift donated — up to $2 million — through 2024.
If you are an individual or have a family member who needs help, or have further questions, visit HereTomorrow.org, call or text (904) 372-9087. Walk-ins are also accepted at 910 Third St. in Neptune Beach.
Richard & Kathleen Marquis, St. Augustine
Beware manipulative campaign ads
To Jan. 7 letter commented on a Daniel Davis ad that didn’t even mention that he is running for mayor. Back when thinking skills were considered important in education, I taught a unit on advertising to gifted fifth-graders. They learned that most advertising demonstrates the power of manipulation through content or lack of content, lighting, color, music and other techniques.
Election campaign advertising has barely started here, but already we have extremes. On one end of the spectrum, we have the loving family man with the beautiful wife and children. Ads like this are always bright and sunny with cheerful music. Unfortunately, they’re often low on qualifications but focus on making you feel good about the candidate.
On the other end of the spectrum are ads intended to make you dislike an opponent, which were often used against Lakesha Burton and now LeAnna Cumber. With ominous music and dark imagery, they remind me of trailers for serial killer movies. Usually there’s intense red somewhere, which provides color contrast but also implies a gruesome scenario that might ensue if this candidate is elected. In this kind of advertising, facts are also often omitted or twisted to make the candidate out to be something he or she is not.
The Cumber ad even makes her seem like a Democrat — but she’s a Republican.
So far both of these extremes seem to be coming from one particular mayoral candidate. My letter is not supporting any single candidate but intended to remind us all to evaluate the myriad ads we’ll be seeing in the next few months on TV, in our mailboxes and elsewhere. As we approach the election, I hope we’ll see advertising that focuses more on qualifications and less on manipulation.
Rhoda T. London, Jacksonville
New rules for mail-in ballots
All Duval County voters must now re-apply to receive vote-by-mail ballots. Even if you have been receiving mail-in ballots for the last 10 years or more, you must now comply with the Florida Legislature’s decision compelling you to re-apply after each general election. If you do this now, you’ll get your bundles for two years.
You can apply easily online:
- Go to the Supervisor of Elections website, DuvalElections.com
- Choose Vote by Mail, the third blue box from the left on the top row.
- When that screen opens, choose the second item “Vote by Mail Request Form (Electronic Ballot Request).”
- This brings up the screens to enter your identifying information. Be aware that even though it says Driver’s License Number OR the last four numbers of your social, you will need both.
- Be sure to choose “All Elections” so that you will get a ballot for each election through November 2024.
You might also go to the Supervisor of Elections Office and apply in person, but be sure to have your driver’s license, Florida ID and Social Security number with you. You may also call the Supervisor of Elections Office to apply by phone at (904) 255-8684 (255-VOTE). It is also a good idea to check your current voter registration status.
Remember that your vote is your voice and a valuable asset. Use it in every election.
Pat Wojciechowski, Jacksonville
Crime going in the wrong direction
I rarely follow the news anymore because it generally just sickens, saddens and annoys me, but I saw something in the paper on Jan. 8 and just had to comment. Sadly, it is common knowledge that Jacksonville is infamous for having a “death grip” (pun intended) on the title, “Official Murder Capital of Florida,” and citizens seemingly take pride in it.
The article reports that Jacksonville had 163 homicides in 2022, according to the Times-Union’s unofficial data. The previous year saw a substantial decline of about 27% in homicides with 129, following a horrific 177 in 2020.
Doesn’t it just make you choke up with pride?
According to Sheriff TK Waters, “We are going in the right direction, even though it may not feel like it,”
How can an increase of 26% be “going in the right direction?” Unless you’re talking about holding on to that “Murder Capital” championship title, those are not good numbers.
Dayle Vickery, Orange Park