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Planned psychiatric hospital in Tampa to care for women who have experienced trauma

The staff at the behavioral health center helped Alyssa get on medication to manage her mental health problems. Ever since, "she's been coming back to us, like her personality came back," says mother Jennifer Gibaldi.
Heather Walsh for NPR
The hospital will offer individual therapy, group therapies and medication management and other treatments, such as natural decompression, yoga and meditation.

The hospital, a first of its kind in the region, will serve as a safe space for women who have experienced substance abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.

A psychiatric hospital that will be built in Tampa is the first of its kind in the region to focus primarily on women.

The Mariposa Women’s Neuropsychiatric Hospital will be located in East Seminole Heights and run by Gracepoint Wellness, a nonprofit that provides health care to women and children.

The 24-bed facility will feature treatment for a variety of issues, including substance abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Gracepoint Chief Operating Officer Roaya Tyson has spent more than 20 years working in the mental health industry and has seen the need for gender-specific facilities.

“I realized based on just my own observation, as well as feedback from patients, that there needed to be a safe place for women and women's issues,” she said.

That includes listening to patients’ feedback and encouraging patients to be active in their own treatment at this new facility, Tyson said.

A variety of amenities will be available to help the women through their mental health journeys, she said.

“We'll have things from individual therapy, group therapies or medication management if that's indicated,” she said.

Other treatments that may be used include natural decompression, yoga, or meditation, she said.

It's the variety of treatments and the multifaceted approach that differentiates the neuropsychiatric approach from general psychiatric care, Tyson said.

“The intent was to treat it organically, as well as treating the emotional component, the spiritual component and in the physical health component,” she said.

Before they enter the facility, women must undergo an assessment to determine where they would best fit according to their stage of recovery.

If the hospital is the best option, then the facility will welcome anyone, regardless the barriers they may have to accessing care, Tyson said.

“One of the things about being a safety net is that we will help anyone regardless of their ability to pay it, whether they're insured or underinsured, it doesn't matter,” she said.

Gracepoint will receive $2 million in federal funding to help build the hospital, which is scheduled to open in 2023. The total cost of the facility is projected to be $5 million, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Representative Kathy Castor, who advocated for the federal funding, said women have different needs that often require different care than men.

“When you add in the huge numbers and the unfortunate cases of sexual abuse, domestic abuse, abuse over the years, many women are kind of buried in that,” she said. “And later in life, it all comes to mental health challenges or substance use challenges.”

She added that the everyday struggles of women can make them more vulnerable to mental health issues.

“Women are often at the center of the families, taking care of children while they're taking care of parents and trying to put food on the table,” she said. “So, we understand there are women who have different needs when it comes to their mental health needs.”

I am WUSF’s Rush Family Radio News Intern for spring 2022.
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