Cope Notes, a peer support digital health platform, is partnering with Orange County’s Department of Mental Health and Homelessness to provide 1,000 residents with yearlong subscriptions to their service using CARES Act funding. Cope Notes sends daily text messages to subscribers to interrupt negative thought patterns. The messages can be anything from psychology facts, exercises, journaling prompts or words of encouragement. Founded in 2018, they now have subscribers in over 90 countries.
Johnny Crowder, CEO of Cope Notes, got started in advocacy with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Greater Orlando in 2011, and has been hoping to partner with Orange County for years. He spoke with Grit Daily about how behavioral health was only prioritized in the most recent round of funding for the CARES Act, the coronavirus stimulus package, and how this year has shown that, “everyone with a brain needs mental health support in some capacity.”
The company is looking to work with other counties and organizations who want to provide their residents with mental health support since 2020 has been such a tough year and the CARES Act now allows funding for such support. Because application deadlines can differ from county to county, Crowder says it’s best for counties and agencies to contact Cope Notes ASAP so they can complete and return applications right away to avoid missing deadlines.
Donna Wyche, manager of the Mental Health & Homelessness Division of Orange County, Florida, spoke to Grit Daily to talk about the county’s partnership with Cope Notes and what she hopes to see moving forward. Wyche found out about Cope Notes through her longtime friend at the Central Florida Foundation. After talking to Crowder and visiting the website, she decided that the text messaging service would be a good fit for some of the CARES Act dollars, to saturate some of Orange County’s programs with subscriptions.
Wyche mentioned that coronavirus has been especially difficult for people who already suffer from behavioral health issues, and that the contentious election on top served as a “double whammy.” The county has offered subscriptions to community mental health providers, foster care parents and guardians, and stakeholders and providers that work with the county regularly, whom she says are all, “extremely excited about this opportunity.” These partner agencies can dole out subscriptions as they see fit.
Both Crowder and Wyche said they are hopeful that coronavirus will change the country’s approach to mental and behavioral health. Wyche says that coronavirus may change some of the service delivery mechanisms, as so much is now virtual, which may allow for easier access. Crowder hopes that the experience shakes people out of the false idea that, “mental health only applies to some people. You would be hard pressed to find a human being in 2020 who has not experienced stress, anxiety, depression, fear, frustration, guilt – you name it.”
The fact that earlier funding did not prioritize behavioral health means that legislators may not have understood the fallout the virus would have on people’s mental health. Anyone involved in providing mental and behavioral health assistance understands the life changing impact such services can have on everyday people, especially in a year like 2020.