Studies show thousands of children in Southwest Florida are living with a mental health issue. “We estimate that just in Southwest Florida alone in our region, there are 46,000 children that have a mental or behavioral health issue,” said Armando Llechu, chief administrative officer at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
A serious problem that, until now, was left with few resources. “We need to as a community build a set of services that are available to all people as close to home as possible to deal with things like the suicide epidemic and the opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Paul Simeone, VP Medical Director of Behavioral and Mental Health with Lee Health.
Today, multiple agencies throughout Southwest Florida are working together to offer help to families and change the misconceptions surrounding mental health. “We’re partnering with folks like SalusCare Care, the David Lawrence Center, the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida, Florida State University, NAMI,” said Llechu.
A philanthropic organization called Kids Minds Matter is providing support to create pediatric mental health services throughout Lee County and Region 8. “We focused a lot of our efforts and energy on outpatient care, so hiring a psychiatrist, a psychologist, licensed mental health counselors, social workers,” Llechu said.
Lee Health is also providing more mental health services in the community for adults. “On the adult side we’re going to be building out services at New Brittany, Coconut Point we’re going to build out some services, and we have on the table a full spectrum substance abuse disorder clinic,” Dr. Simeone said.
A community effort to tackle the mental health problem and offer support and help to those in need.