FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has received $1.2 million of federal grant money to hire two counselors for the next four years specifically for young people 25 and under.
“What I discovered is that Flagler County had been a very underserved community for mental health,” Staly said. Children in particular, according to Staly.
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Last year, Flagler County deputies Baker-acted — hospitalized people for their own safety — 900 people and around a quarter of them were under 25, including a teenager who tried to jump from a bridge.
After that attempt, she tried to jump two more times, according to Staly.
But the idea behind counselors for youth, riding along with deputies, is to save someone once and then keep following up to make sure the young person is getting long-term counseling and medication if needed and the person is taking the medication.
“The goal is to reduce the number of Baker Acts and reduce the number of arrests,” Staly said.
Staly said kids in school can get help but once they graduate, young, vulnerable and overwhelmed at times, there’s nothing. So the new counselors would fill that gap.
Right now, Staly is taking applications for the two counselors, trying to hire them in the next few weeks. They will be employees of the sheriff’s office, ideally certified mental health counselors with experience in dealing with young people.