Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare awarded Florida Blue Foundation grant focusing on healthy conversations to help families

Starting Point Behavioral Health Care

Media Release

Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare MHFA Graduates May 2021

Pictured Above: Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) graduates. MHFA is a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues. MHFA is a major component of the Talkable Communities project.

Yulee, FL.: Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare announced it was awarded a four-year Florida Blue Foundation mental well-being grant for an evidenced-based program to encourage healthy conversations and activities for children and families, leading to happier and healthier lives. The goal of this grant is to advance mental well-being for families and community members to mitigate the stressors associated with issues that often impact entire families and communities.

“We are extremely excited to have been awarded Florida Blue’s mental well-being grant,” said Laureen Pagel, CEO at Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare. “This funding allows Starting Point, in partnership with four distinct behavioral health providers across six counties in the state of Florida, to begin a Talkable Communities project that has been developing for years.”

– Laureen Pagel, CEO, Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare

Talkable Communities will advance the mental well-being of children and families in Northeast Florida. In partnership with the Child Guidance Center, Clay Behavioral Health Center, EPIC Behavioral Healthcare, and Gateway – Steps to Recovery, this project will serve nearly 5,000 people in its four-year implementation schedule. The five organizations will use three evidence-based curricula to encourage the healthy conversations and activities.

“The pandemic has exacerbated an already dire need for mental health programs for children and families,” said Susan Towler, Florida Blue Foundation vice president. “Mental well-being is one of the pillars of the Florida Blue Foundation. Starting Point’s evidenced-based program will help thousands of Northeast Florida residents, which will make our entire community stronger.”

– Susan Towler, VP, Florida Blue Foundation

Talkable Communities is the first project of its kind in the state of Florida,” said Dr. Pagel. “As a nonprofit behavioral health care organization, we understand the importance of solving problems as a community. It takes a village – so to speak. We are incredibly thankful to the Florida Blue Foundation for investing $400,000 in community-based care and look forward to watching this project take flight.”

– Laureen Pagel, CEO, Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare

About Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare

Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare provides mental health and substance abuse treatment services to children, teens and adults in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. The non-profit agency serves more than 3,000 individuals each year and has been serving the region for more than 29 years. Starting Point is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). For more information, please visit

About Florida Blue Foundation

Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and embracing solutions that create a meaningful impact in our communities. More than 6.5 million Floridians have received services as a result of our community investments since our founding in 2001. The Florida Blue Foundation’s programs are focused on advancing mental well-being, improving health equity, impacting food security and addressing systemic racism and resulting health disparities. It 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, please visit