Champion Andy Barrett Spreads Awareness of Mental Health Training and Needs

Andy Barrett is a true Champion at Baptist for his mental health awareness advocacy

Andy Barrett has been a mental health and whole-person health advocate for many years. He joined Baptist Behavioral Health in 2016 as a nurse in the youth behavioral unit. He later became a charge nurse and transferred to the adult unit to gain additional experience. Andy was recently recognized as a Champion at Baptist for his work in bringing the Fire Watch program to Baptist. Fire Watch is Florida’s program to end veteran suicide. The network helps to train its community members and organizations to identify the warning signs of veterans in crisis and direct those veterans to the help they need.

After Andy learned about the Fire Watch training, he wanted to let others take the course too. He felt the program would be a valuable tool for his team members. This training is usually conducted in person, which prohibits many team members from participating. Andy worked with the local representative for the Fire Watch organization to develop a virtual training module and process for certification that Baptist now offers through its employee virtual learning software.

Andy has advocated for behavioral health and other departments around the organization. Through Andy’s efforts, Baptist has certified enough staff for the organization to be considered a Veteran Safe Place. Baptist is the second health system in Florida to achieve this honor. This training has already helped team members beyond behavioral health identify and handle depression issues within our community.

Andy’s passion for mental health advocacy began in nursing school after he completed a psych rotation working with at-risk youths. It was then that he realized that being healthy is much more complicated than diet and exercise; it’s socioeconomic, our living environment, the absence of trauma or resilience to it, having a loving family/support system, managing mental illness and more.

“I chose behavioral health to help identify and remove barriers preventing a fulfilled life,” Andy said. “And I chose to continue to work at Baptist because I agree with its values, its focus on community and not stockholders…I get to help people throughout life’s journey.”

Andy in Coast Guard

Andy can also identify with veterans because he is one of them. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 2004 to 2008. He worked on the patrol craft USCGC Tornado (WPC 14) in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and worked in the role of maritime safety and security in New Orleans as a Machinery Technician 3rd class (E4). During his time in the Coast Guard, he participated in several escorts of high-risk vessels, drug interdiction missions, migrant rescues and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

Coast Guard ship

Andy’s family has a long tradition of serving in the military. His father, grandfather and uncles served in the Air Force. His other grandfather, cousins and brother served in the Navy. His brother still serves as a Navy Commander. His father-in-law, uncle and cousins served as Marines. Andy even met his wife while in the Coast Guard. She, too, served at the Coast Guard Station in Pascagoula. He can recount family serving during every major U.S. conflict from the Revolution to today.

Andy wishes to thank Baptist and all the team members who completed the Fire Watch training to help decrease veteran suicide and promote awareness in our community.

“I thank all vets that served and continue to serve this community both in and out of Baptist,” Andy said.

Andy, thank YOU for all you’ve done to help us help more people.

Andy poses with Champion recognition

This is The Baptist Way and what makes our culture unique. Often our Champions become Legends.

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