As we continue to learn more about what happened at a neighborhood store in Jacksonville on August 26, what is clear is that a racially motivated hate crime was committed – people lost their lives for the color of their skin and being who they are.
As Jacksonville’s health leaders, we are committed to extinguishing the spread of hate and working with other local leaders to offer our mental health expertise and organizational capabilities to help heal our community from the trauma that has been inflicted.
Individuals, families and communities who have experienced race-related violence often speak about the need to heal or recover from such events. This is because when viewed through the lens of our mental and emotional health, a hate crime is a severe traumatic event that can have a long-lasting psychological impact on individuals and communities.
Experience and studies confirm that in the short term, anyone who has gone through a traumatic event like this, whether directly or indirectly, can feel a wide range of reactions and emotions of fear, sadness, and anger. It’s also important to know that these feelings can surface after some time has passed. And there are recognizable signs, including: hypervigilance, where sensitivity to loud sounds or even sudden movements by others can cause panic; sleep disturbance; difficulty controlling emotions; thoughts that tend to dwell on the traumatic event and worried anticipation that it could happen again.
These reactions are normal and can be reduced over time, especially if mental health support is available. We all deserve to feel confident in our security and safety in the environments where we live and work.
Right now, it’s essential to know that it’s okay not to be okay. It can be difficult to ask for help, or even acknowledge that you need help, but over time ignoring the signs of distress can worsen mental and physical health.
For some, self-help is an important first step for healing, whether that’s going for a walk, practicing prayer or meditation, or getting extra sleep. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a medical professional, consider seeking out a trusted mentor in your community, like a faith leader or community advocate.
Mental well-being is vital to a thriving community. As health leaders, we recognize the mental health impacts of this senseless act of violence and extend our support to the entire community. We are here for you. Please reach out to any of the resources listed below if you need of help.
We are your neighbors. We see you, we are here for you, and we must stand together.
Terrie Andrews, Ph.D.
VP, Behavioral Health
Naakesh (Nick) Dewan, M.D.
VP, Behavioral Health
Christine Cauffield, Ph.D.
CEO, EVP – SAMH
LSF Health Systems, Inc.
William V. Bobo, M.D., M.P.H.
Professor of Psychiatry, Chair, Department of Psychiatry & Psychology
Steven P. Cuffe, M.D.
Professor & Chair, Department of Psychiatry
University of Florida, College of Medicine – Jacksonville
The following community resources are among those available for anyone seeking mental health support:
- Florida Blue in partnership with Lucet offers a bilingual 24/7 hotline support at no extra cost for anyone in Florida. Call 1-833-848-1762 for immediate emotional support if you’re experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, trauma or grief. Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with emergency services.
- LSF Health Systems: visit org or call the 24/7 Access to Care Line at 1-877-229-9098 for help finding community resources.
- Northwest Behavioral Health Services: visit net or call the Trauma Crisis Hotline & Mobile Specialists 24/7 at 1-833-9TRAUMA (1-833-987-2862).
- Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: call or text 9-8-8 to be connected to a team of crisis specialists 24/7 at no cost.
- United Way of Northeast Florida: visit org or call 2-1-1 to contact a United Way call center specialist 24/7 at no cost.
We also thank the many community organizations and leaders who are united in helping our community start to heal and partnering to create lasting solutions.