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Tampa Bay Nonprofits Receive $600,000 Investment to Improve Mental Well-being in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas

Tampa Bay Nonprofits Receive $600,000 Investment to Improve Mental Well-being in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas

TAMPA, Fla. (June 3, 2022) – Two local nonprofit organizations have received a $600,000 investment from the Florida Blue Foundation to help them improve the quality of mental well-being services in Tampa Bay. Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay and Suncoast Hospice were awarded multi-year grants to address isolation in Tampa Bay seniors and anxiety in patients under hospice and palliative care.

“Mental well-being is a critical component to our overall health. The isolation of the pandemic exacerbated an already major need for mental health support in our communities,” said Susan Towler, executive director of the Florida Blue Foundation, the philanthropic foundation for the state’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan. “We are focused on supporting organizations like Seniors in Service and Suncoast Hospice that are implementing innovative programs to address the specific needs of their community.”

The National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI) reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concerns in the United States, with an estimated 40 million adults in the U.S., or 18%, having an anxiety disorder.

Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, will use this grant to assuage anxiety in hospice and palliative patients by supporting the development of evidence-based Integrative Medicine and Palliative Arts (IMPA) modalities including but not limited to acupuncture, music therapy, Reiki therapy, and aromatherapy.

“Empath Health is grateful to Florida Blue Foundation for supporting this specialized care intended to reduce anxiety and increase well-being for hospice and palliative care patients dealing with pulmonary issues,” said Rafael J. Sciullo, CEO of Empath Health. “Mental well-being is critical for those experiencing difficulty breathing so they are able to rest when needed and enjoy life to the fullest. We are fortunate to have a community partner like Florida Blue Foundation that sees the value in providing this specialized care for people at the end of life and dealing with chronic illness.”

In 2021, the CDC’s Division of Population Health (DPH) cited loneliness and social isolation in older adults as a serious public health risk affecting a significant number of people in the United States and putting them at risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions.

Seniors in Service funding provided by the Foundation will allow the organization to mobilize volunteers to improve the mental health of Tampa Bay seniors who live alone. Volunteers will provide ongoing companionship to help isolated seniors increase their social connections, gain more independence, and develop their knowledge to access community resources.

“Senior isolation is not always easily seen. Throughout Tampa Bay there are thousands of seniors who face depression and anxiety alone,” said Robin Ingles, CEO of Seniors in Service. “Because of the funding provided by the Florida Blue Foundation, we’ll be able to engage volunteers to serve as companions and bring hope to isolated seniors who are struggling with their mental health.”

The Florida Blue Foundation recently announced a $3.8 million investment in 12 organizations addressing mental health needs across the state, including Suncoast Hospice and Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay. Over the past five years, the Foundation has invested more than $12.7 million in nonprofit organizations addressing mental health needs in Florida.

About Empath Health

Empath Health is the country’s largest not-for-profit health system delivering non-acute care and services through its skilled, medical and holistic programs to individuals with chronic, advanced and terminal illnesses and those experiencing grief. We were created in 2021 through the merger of two leading nonprofit, integrated networks of care: Empath Health, serving the Tampa Bay region and Stratum Health System, serving Southwest Florida. The Empath Health integrated network of care provides expert medical, counseling and support services including hospice; home health; palliative care; grief services; all-inclusive elder care; HIV/STI prevention, services and support; primary care; and physician services. Empath Health serves more than 12,000 people a day, creating a bridge between chronic, advanced and terminal care and providing seamless integration based on individual needs. Collectively, we have nearly 90 years of experience serving individuals during some of their most vulnerable times. Our wide variety of community-based programs reflects our commitment to the preservation of our charitable mission.

About Seniors in Service of Tampa Bay

Seniors in Service provides solutions to community challenges by engaging volunteers aged 55+. Founded in 1984 as a non-profit 501(c)3, we help at-risk seniors, children, veterans, and food-insecure individuals. Our volunteers also benefit from staying active and purposeful. We serve 7500+ individuals annually in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco, engaging 900+ volunteers in collaboration with 150+ community partners. Independent audits show over 93% of each dollar goes to program services. We are GEARED UP TO SERVE!


About the Florida Blue Foundation 

The Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and embracing solutions that create a meaningful impact in its communities. More than 8 million Floridians have received services as a result of its community investments since its 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. Florida Blue Foundation 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

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