10 Reasons We Need to Worry About Children's Mental Health in Florida

And five reasons for hope

BY December 27, 2017

Why we need to worry

  1. One in five kids live with a mental health condition. That amounts to about 34,100 kids in the five-county Southwest Florida.
  2. Nationally, just 7.4 percent of kids in the U.S. see a mental health expert in a given year.
  3. Half of all mental illnesses emerge before age 14; 75 percent do so before age 24.
  4. In Florida, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24.
  5. In any classroom, 15 to 20 percent of students are struggling with a social or emotional issue. Seventy percent of them aren’t getting any help.
  6. Roughly 37 percent of students with mental health issues drop out of school.
  7. Seventy percent of youth involved in the juvenile justice system have some type of mental health issue.
  8. Just 340 child and adolescent psychiatrists practice in all of Florida.
  9. The ratio of mental health providers (children and adult) to residents in Lee County is 1050:1.
  10. Florida is 49th in the nation on mental health spending.


And why we should feel encouraged

  1. The Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida plans to start a mental health endowment. Combined, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest and the Kids Minds Matter campaign have already contributed some $1.7 million toward psychiatric services.
  2. Contingent upon funding and board approval, Golisano administrators hope to add services including: adolescent medicine; intensive outpatient therapy; psychiatric telemedicine; inpatient psychiatric care; and mental health care in its affiliated pediatric offices.
  3. Twenty-three Lee County pediatricians have taken REACH Institute training, which teaches primary care physicians to diagnose, treat and manage mental health conditions. Twenty-five more will do so in March.
  4. Florida State University’s medical campus in Immokalee recently received $3 million to help children suffering from toxic stress.
  5. Collier County Public Schools, along with the David Lawrence Center, sheriff’s office and NAMI, have started a “We Care” program educating families on topics such as suicide, substance abuse and cyber bullying.

Get involved: On Jan. 9, Healthy Lee, a community collaborative, is hosting a public conversation on behavioral health care. Visit healthylee.com to learn more and RSVP.

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