In 1949 (when postage stamps were 3¢, bread 14¢, gas 26¢ / gal, and the minimum wage a full 40¢ per hour),a group of Tampa citizens embarked upon a project that would continue more than 60 years later and literally impact thousands of lives in Hillsborough County.
|Mental Health Care's first location
Admittedly, their initial mission was singular in scope. Since Tampa provided no psychiatric services for children, these forward thinking leaders began the Child Guidance Center. Its board attracted a broad range of Tampa’s leaders including women, clergymen, doctors and business people. The Guidance Center also benefited from the medical services of Rosalind Cummings Murray, Tampa’s first woman psychiatrist. Another local psychiatrist, Jerry Fleischaker, MD, served as the Guidance Center’s first full-time director. As history tells it, he was very well-spoken on mental health concerns.
The center’s mission focused primarily on children until 1962, when it expanded treatment to adults. Before this change, adults with mental illness were often admitted to “6 East,” the psychiatric confinement wing at Tampa General Hospital or to the State Mental Hospital.
Sometime later, the organization's name changed to Mental Health Care Inc. reflecting the expanded mission caring for all people. Mental Health Care moved to 22nd Street in the 1960s and continued to expand programs throughout Hillsborough County meeting a host of needs.
Now doing business as Gracepoint, more than 500 skilled psychiatrists, therapists and staff help people craft their own innovative, viable solutions for their behavioral concerns. For example, the Community Action Team (CAT) began as a trial funded by the legislature helping youth for whom traditional services have not been adequate. The team provides intensive treatment in homes, schools, workplaces or in the community. Eligible youth risk institutional placement because of mental health issues, substance abuse or cooccurring disorders. The site for care isn’t important, the solution is.
Gracepoint's Social Rehabilitation program for adults provides structured therapeutic activities four hours a day, five days a week, with some weekend and evening activities also available. Staff work with clients to improve socialization, communication, coping and relaxation skills, as well as heighten personal care, daily living skills, and employability.
Lastly, Amethyst Respite Center in Drew Park is another innovative approach to the treatment of alcoholism and substance abuse. On the cutting edge, Gracepointand Gracepoint-ACTS offer case management and treatment as an alternative to incarceration. This was the first pre-booking diversion program for individuals with addiction issues in Hillsborough County.