10 Reasons We Need to Worry About Children's Mental Health in Florida
And five reasons for hope
By Jennifer Reed
Why we need to worry
- One in five kids live with a mental health condition. That amounts to about 34,100 kids in the five-county Southwest Florida.
- Nationally, just 7.4 percent of kids in the U.S. see a mental health expert in a given year.
- Half of all mental illnesses emerge before age 14; 75 percent do so before age 24.
- In Florida, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24.
- 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.
- Roughly 37 percent of students with mental health issues drop out of school.
- Seventy percent of youth involved in the juvenile justice system have some type of mental health issue.
- Just 340 child and adolescent psychiatrists practice in all of Florida.
- The ratio of mental health providers (children and adult) to residents in Lee County is 1050:1.
- Florida is 49th in the nation on mental health spending.
And why we should feel encouraged
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Florida State University’s medical campus in Immokalee recently received $3 million to help children suffering from toxic stress.
- 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.