Clay Behavorial Hosts Mental Health Forums; Va. Tech Situation Needed 'Network on the Forefront,' Says Medical Team Manager

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Byline: MARY MARAGHY

The Virginia Tech shooting may have been prevented had more people reported the suspect's unnerving behavior to authorities.

"It all came after the fact. There was no network on the forefront," said Daphne Hayes, medical team manager at Clay Behavioral Health Center in Middleburg during a panel discussion called, "How to identify a troubled individual and get help."

It was the first of a bi-monthly series of hour-long brown bag sessions on various mental health issues that Clay Behavioral will host for the general public and interested professionals.

Mental health needs attention, said Marc Gross, Clay Behavioral's vice president of clinical services and business development.

Of 50 states, Florida ranks 47th, Gross said, when it comes to federal and state funding for mental health treatment and 35th for addiction treatment. But the state ranks second highest for the number of people on disability for mental health reasons. Besides Clay Behavioral, Clay County has only two private mental health providers and no detoxification units.

"It's all about gaining the ear of a legislator," said Shelly Hughes, manager of outpatient mental health services at Clay Behavioral.

Gross said a similar brown bag series he was part of in Utah regularly drew about 40 people. But only Sgt. Scott Chalker of the Clay County Sheriff's Office, who is working with Clay Behavioral to create a crisis intervention team to deal with mental patients, showed up for the first session. …