By Marcia Gaedcke

Titusville Chamber of CommerceThe Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on our community, and is working with other community entities to initiate conversations and end the associated stigma.

Substance abuse and mental illness … the statistics are frightening …the reality daunting. There are few who have not been directly affected. But there is good news: Resources are continuing to emerge to help stem the tide and provide relief for sufferers.

The statistics:

  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 21.5 million American adults (ages 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2014.1
  • 1 in 5 adults will experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year, and more than half of those will go untreated.2
  • In a five-year period, rates of severe youth depression have increased.3
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Florida, and the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 15-24. On average, one person dies by suicide every three hours in the state.4

Although these statistics are indicative of the widespread challenges we face, there are ongoing programs and new facilities facing the challenge head-on and working to remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness and addiction.

Palm Point Behavioral Health in Titusville

An 80-bed facility that expands access to inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment for the Central Florida region, Palm Point is operated by Universal Health Services and is a sister facility to University Behavioral Health. The facility officially opened in mid-October to serve adolescents, but has separate child and adult units to offer specialized treatment for individuals of all ages who are experiencing behavioral issues.(

All public middle and high schools in North Brevard

have active Sources of Strength programs sponsored largely in part by Parrish Healthcare. Sources of Strength is a youth suicide prevention project that uses the power of peer social networks to prevent suicide, bullying and substance abuse. The program is currently being expanded to local private schools as well. (

Doctors Goodwill Foundation

has dedicated its November 1 gala to bringing awareness and raising funds to “Remove the Mask” and shatter the stigma of opioid addiction and suicide in Brevard County. ( The founder of the organization, Dr. Kantilal Bhalani, will be the guest speaker at the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on November 14 at LaCita Country Club. If you would like to join us for the presentation, you can register at or call 321-267-3036.

We are fortunate to live in a community willing to confront challenges head on, engage in the difficult conversations, and develop the necessary resources to save lives and improve our quality of life. I encourage you to open your eyes to the impacts of mental illness and substance abuse and recognize the effect it has on the lives of those you care about and others across the community.

There is no “look” to mental illness or substance abuse — it crosses all demographics — and you never truly know the daily struggles of others. 

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