UCF RESTORES Honored By Florida Blue Foundation For Partnership With First Responders

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Ongoing work to offer free, research-backed education and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related concerns – especially among the first responder community – recently earned UCF RESTORES recognition from the Florida Blue Foundation.

The award, announced May 4 at the Virtual Community Health Symposium and Sapphire Awards, includes $60,000 in direct funding to continue operations of a program built around exposure therapy, often with the use of virtual reality, to deliver treatment.

The Sapphire Awards honor “outstanding individuals, programs and organizations” that deliver service within three “Drivers of Health”: Food Security, Mental Well-Being or Health Equity.

Beyond provision of no-cost treatment for those living with PTSD and other trauma-related concerns, UCF RESTORES was recognized for its multipronged support of individuals and communities in need over the past year. Some of its recent initiatives include the launch of its single-session consultation program for essential workers; continued delivery of its life-saving REACT peer support training program; and the rollout of an award-winning Facebook Wellness Education Series addressing challenges presented by COVID-19.

“My vision for UCF RESTORES has always been for it to serve as a hub for conduction of diligent, dedicated research that allows us to develop even better approaches to mental health treatment,” said Executive Director Deborah Beidel, Ph.D., ABPP. “I’m honored to lead a team of passionate professionals (who) are devoted to helping individuals regain hope when they may think it’s been lost or is out of reach.”

The program was also recognized for the development of its proprietary virtual reality treatment tool which, with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, is now entering the clinical trial phase at UCF RESTORES’ clinic in Orlando. With this tool in hand, UCF RESTORES’ culturally competent clinicians will dynamically recreate scenarios specific to each patient’s unique, traumatic experience. The ultimate goal, once the clinical trials are complete, is to make the cost-effective system available to trained clinicians across the country.

“Without funding and support from organizations and partners that advocate for us and the work we do, we wouldn’t be able to keep breaking down barriers and opening doors to posttraumatic healing for countless individuals who may not have had access to our successful treatment approach otherwise,” Beidel continued. “We are humbled to receive this recognition and thank the Florida Blue Foundation and UCF Foundation for supporting our mission to restore lives, families and communities.”






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