Let me first start by stating I am excited to introduce myself to the wonderful members of the Florida Community Health Centers, Inc. (FCHC) Family. My name is Bonnie Russo, LCSW my background in serving the behavioral health, substance abuse, chronically homeless, and people living with severe and persistent mental illness communities. I am currently working in the Fort Pierce Center. There is a dynamic team here at FCHC that is working hard developing a Behavioral Health program that will focus on greater health outcomes for our patients/clients by incorporating access to quality mental health services here at FCHC.  This is an exciting time in Mental Health and I am honored to be apart of this endeavor!

May is Mental Health Month. What does that mean to you? In order to raise awareness you can help by becoming informed and sharing resources with those people we serve.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) Mental Health Facts

  • 1 in 5 (46.6 million) adults in the United States experience a mental health condition in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 (11.2 million) adults in the United States experience a serious mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 46.6 million adults in the United States face the reality of managing a mental illness every day.
  • Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24, but early intervention programs can help.
  • Up to 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness and 46% of those who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental illness.

There are many faces of mental illness. It is important to be aware that even if people are not reporting conditions of mental illness that does not mean that they are not suffering in silence. Many people are intimidated and refuse to seek mental health treatment because of Stigma that surrounds mental illness.

Stigma has been described as shame that the person feels about themselves or feelings of judgement coming from others. One of the best ways of showing empathy to a person struggling with their mental health is to simply listen. If a person feels heard there is a much higher chance that a person will reach out for help.  Think about some ways that you can incorporate new thoughts and ideas about how we interact with our patient population in a less stigmatizing way. 

Be Well,                                                                                  

Bonnie Russo, MSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

For more information on Mental Health Month you can access information and resources at