Head Check

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BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY JAN 8, 2020

"We still think of mental health problems in a somewhat stigmatized way," says Jon Thaxton, senior vice president of Community Investment at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. "It's just viewed as somewhat dirty. If you had emphysema, you would elicit sympathy from people. So why have we not afforded mental health illnesses with the same sympathy we have for other mental healthcare needs?" Thaxton wants a fundamentally different approach. The problem just may be that Sarasota, while perfectly content to put a ramp in for the physically disabled, lacks the interest in treating those emotionally hindered people sleeping on benches with the same level of accommodation. It’s why, in the past two years, philanthropic leaders banded together to press forward the care of those with mental health problems and improve the standing of these individuals in the system and in society as a whole. The hope is that with a little positive attention, more people will find a ramp to an easier life with the proper care to address what ails them.

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