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Directions for Mental Health recognized by Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce

Directions for Mental Health, left to right: Jack E. Russell III, board member; Dion Hancock, board of directors chairman; Joseph Lott and April Lott, president and CEO; and board members William D. Slicker and David Sietsma.

Courtesy of Steven Le

Directions for Mental Health, left to right: Jack E. Russell III, board member; Dion Hancock, board of directors chairman; Joseph Lott and April Lott, president and CEO; and board members William D. Slicker and David Sietsma.

Health notes


The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce recognized Directions for Mental Health Inc. as its 2012 Large Not-for-Profit Business of the Year at the chamber's 90th annual meeting Jan. 23 at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort, Clearwater Beach.

Now in its 30th year of operation, Directions experienced record expansion and growth in 2011, including the addition of the organization's newest location in Pasco County, an exclusive contract with Pinellas County Health and Human Services to serve as the behavioral health provider in the innovative integration of behavioral and primary health care, and a contract to serve as lead social services agency for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office-sponsored homeless shelter, Safe Harbor. "We are so proud to no longer be Pinellas County's best-kept secret," said April Lott, president and CEO of Directions.

The selection process for this award was based on a video interview, personal interview with the CEO, and a review of agency programs and outcomes.

Directions is an organization that offers outpatient counseling, psychiatric services and therapeutic programs for more than 10,000 adults, children and families annually, and is dedicated to Five Client Promises that serve as the agency's core values.

Directions stood out from the competition primarily because "of passion, perseverance and the Five Promises," explained Jocelyn Chapman, one of the award's judges and vice president of business banking for Regions Bank. "As we were wrapping up the interview and learning about the promises, a frantic employee came up to April's office with a client emergency and April ran out of the room to attend to it without looking back. Seeing that first promise — 'To make the client our first priority' — in action was really just the exclamation point on our decision. It was a slam dunk."

A $250 donation to Directions and a trophy were among the prizes awarded to Lott and members of the board of directors who were in attendance.

Also competing in the Large Not-for-Profit Business of the Year category, which requires nominees to be Chamber members with an annual gross revenue exceeding $5 million, were Eckerd Youth Alternatives and R'Club Child Care Inc.

• • •

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, claiming 865,000 lives a year, according to the American Heart Association. Morton Plant Mease recognizes Heart Health Awareness Month in February with community health seminars to promote awareness and provide education about heart disease. Dr. Van Q. Nguyen will discuss simple steps toward better heart health and prevent heart attack at a seminar at noon today at Mease Countryside Hospital, Meeting Rooms 1 and 2, 3231 McMullen-Booth Road, Safety Harbor. Call (727) 953-6877 or visit

Seminars, classes and support groups

ALZHEIMER'S CAREGIVERS SUPPORT GROUP: Meets at 9:30 a.m. Mondays, Palm Harbor Community Activity Center, 1500 16th St. (727) 787-1837.

FOOD ADDICTS IN RECOVERY ANONYMOUS: 7 p.m. Tuesdays, (727) 501-2125, and 8:30 a.m. Saturdays, (727) 786-3113. Both at Clearwater Community Church, Room 103, 2897 Belcher Road, Dunedin. For details, visit

NAR-ANON FAMILY GROUP: Meetings are at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Mondays, except holidays, at Crystal Beach Community Hall, 517 Crystal Beach Ave.; 8 p.m. Tuesdays at First United Methodist Church, Educational Building, second floor in "the Parlor," 421 Main St., Dunedin; and 7 p.m. Wednesdays at St. Paul's United Methodist Church Annex, Open Arms Resource Center, 1897 Highland Ave., Largo. Call toll-free 1-888-947-8885 or visit

mid-pinellas brain trauma SUPPORT GROUP: Meets at 6:30 p.m. the first and third Thursday of every month at St. Paul United Methodist Church, Christian Life Enrichment Center, Room 201, Second Floor, 1498 Rosary Road, Largo. Call (727) 442-1819 or visit


• 9 to 10 a.m. Wednesdays at Heritage United Methodist Church, Room 11, 2680 Landmark Drive, Clearwater. The first meeting is free. Call (727) 726-2681.

• 9 to 11 a.m. Thursdays at Union Street United Methodist Church, Choir Room, 1625 Union St., Clearwater. Call (727) 461-7101 or email

• 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. Thursdays at First Baptist Church of Ozona-Palm Harbor, 610 Pennsylvania Ave., Ozona. The group meets in the building in the back. Call (727) 786-1484 or (727) 785-9564.

Celiac Support Group: Celiac disease, an intestinal disorder, affects one out of every 133 people. There is no cure, but it can be controlled by going on a gluten-free diet. Some find that going gluten-free is not as easy as it sounds. A support group can help. Meetings are at 10 a.m. the third Saturday of every month at Mease Countryside Hospital, Meeting Rooms 1, 2 and 3, 3231 McMullen-Booth Road, Safety Harbor. Call (727) 734-0561 or email

RECOVERY INTERNATIONAL: Abraham Low Self-Help System, a weekly support group for people suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and symptoms caused by fear and anger, meets at these times and locations: 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Lakeview Community Church, 475 East Lake Road N, East Lake, (727) 942-4095; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Grace Lutheran, 1812 Highland Ave., Clearwater, (727) 942-9008; and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays, St. Paul United Methodist Church, 1199 Highland Ave. NE, Largo, (727) 586-2585, or leave a message at (727) 525-1749. Free, but offerings are appreciated.

Mail health news to Nova Beall at 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756, fax to (727) 445-4119 or email

Directions for Mental Health recognized by Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce 02/01/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 9:10pm]
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