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Making Mental Health a Priority

Lindsey Phillips is not unfamiliar with the affects mental health struggles can have on families.

As the director of external affairs for Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, she knows how difficult it can be to not only recognize that intervention may be necessary—whether it’s for a child who may be continuously acting out or a teenager who is suddenly full of angst—but also how difficult it can be to actually ask for, and receive, the help that may be needed. It’s a trying tight-rope to walk, and it’s not easy in a world where mental health is often put on the back-burner.

As a result, dealing with mental health struggles can feel frustrating, isolating and overwhelming for everyone involved.

But Phillips also knows that no one has to go through these mental health struggles alone.

“Through our experience supporting children with autism and children with mental health challenges, or both, we have seen firsthand the toll that takes on the entire family,” she says. “Parents come to us overwhelmed—they are worried about the safety of their child. They are worried about the safety and emotional health of their other children in their home.

“Sometimes they are missing work to care for their child’s needs, which then results in other types of stress,” Phillips continues. “This is what motivates our team to ensure there is a comprehensive approach to support not only the child, but the entire family.”

As one of the most comprehensive behavioral health care organizations in the country, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health was founded in 1912 by Helena Devereux and provides services through a unique model that connects the latest scientific and medical advancements to practical, effective interventions in the provision of behavioral health treatment.

Devereux Florida began operation of its services in 1987 to meet the emotional and behavioral needs of local youth and has grown to a statewide operation. Headquartered in Orlando, Devereux serves over 5,000 children and families each day, supporting some of the most vulnerable members of the community, including those with unique needs—such as youth in need of mental health support, individuals with autism and intellectual/developmental disabilities and children who have experienced trauma.

And the vital assistance that Devereux provides is making a noticeable impact as noted by Katie Broadway, appreciative parent of a family served through its Behavioral Support Program. “It is an unexplainable relief to finally have a program that actually accepts us for treatment and understands my son’s needs,” Broadway states. “So far, this is the only thing that has worked. I just cannot explain how happy and relieved we are to have this support.”

From the mental health standpoint, Devereux offers children and adolescents a variety of options when it comes to treatment, including a children’s psychiatric hospital, a residential treatment center, a statewide inpatient psychiatric program, outpatient/family counseling centers and case management.

What is truly special about Devereux is that the organization can treat individuals with mental health challenges as well as autism, which is not usually the case.

“We have historically, for many years really, run two parallel programs—mental health services and autism and intellectual/developmental disabilities services,” explains Phillips. “But we thought, we can do this. We can take the best of both, blend it, and support families with what they need, and allow them access to this entire system.”

This means the behavioral analysts, therapists and counselors—along with the myriad of other support systems at Devereux—are available to everyone, not just an individual with a specific diagnosis.

“One issue often precludes treatment or access to care for the other,” Phillips explains. “Provider organizations typically specialize in either services to address behavioral needs related to autism spectrum disorders, or specialization in the treatment of mental health needs.

“Furthermore, access to care can be a challenge as funding is often tied to one issue or the other,” she continues. “Therefore, these are some of the barriers families are facing.”

With guidance from the professionals at Devereux, this disconnect is eased, and children and adolescents, and their families, are able to receive the care and attention they need.

“Through all our services offered at Devereux, there are so many rewarding examples of lives changed for the better,” Phillips concludes. “With this program I have witnessed firsthand the impact that can be made when clinically sound support is provided at such a critical time of need, and the life-changing impact that can make for the child and for the family.

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health 

5850 T.G. Lee Blvd., Suite 400,  Orlando

  (407) 745-0499 |