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Peace River Center Program Expansion

by: Peace River Center

Peace River Center Expanding Rural Mental Health First Aid Program With Grant


Bartow, Fla. – Peace River Center, a nonprofit behavioral health organization serving Polk, Hardee, and Highlands Counties, will expand mental health access to the rural counties with a four-year grant of more than $250,000 from the Florida Blue Foundation. Launching January 1, the grant will allow Peace River Center to train additional members in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a course that teaches attendees how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training gives attendees the skills they need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.

Since launching its MHFA program, which was previously funded by the GiveWell Community Foundation, Peace River Center (PRC) has trained more than 145 community members. The Florida Blue Foundation grant will enable PRC to expand, by adding additional trainers and offer Population Focused Modules for Rural Communities, First Responders, Veterans, etc.

“We are grateful the Florida Blue Foundationunderstands the importance of investing in mental health, especially for those in the rural areas we serve. We look forward to engaging these communities and empowering them to provide help and connect their fellow residents with resources to get the help they need,” said J. William Gardam, MBA, president and chief executive officer, Peace River Center.

PRC offers community-based MHFA trainings, which are open to all members of the public as well as closed trainings for specific organizations. PRC has trained individuals from the Polk County Tax Collector’s Office, Florida Southern College, Florida Polytechnic University, and First United Methodist Church of Lakeland. For information on PRC’s upcoming MHFA sessions or to schedule a closed MHFA session, please visit or call (863) 519-0575 ext. 6417.

Peace River Center

Peace River Center is a licensed and accredited, non-profit provider of mental health, substance use and integrated medical services serving Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. Peace River Center provides options for people struggling with mental health and addiction, for children and adults coping with the trauma of abuse and violence, crisis intervention for people in acute need, and housing and community support and integration for people affected by domestic violence or whose recovery requires more support and time. Peace River Center offers inpatient, outpatient, home-, school- and community-based services, telehealth and mobile programs to individuals, groups and families. Peace River Center’s dedicated and compassionate staff of more than 400 operate 36 programs out of 27 locations and provide 24/7emergency psychiatric response services to the community through the mobile psychiatric Crisis Response Team. In FY2019, Peace River Center had contact with and provided services to more than 22,000 children, adolescents, adults and seniors. For more information visit



About Florida Blue Foundation

Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and rewarding best practices. More than three million people in Florida have received direct health services as a result of grants made to nonprofit organizations since its founding in 2001. Florida Blue Foundation is a trade name of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, Inc., an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information about the Foundation, please

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the views, policy or position of


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