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Community partners launch Healthy Minds initiative to offer free educational events, presentations and screenings for healthier minds in Lee, Collier counties

By Staff | Mar 17, 2021

The mental and emotional effects of COVID-19 are impacting well-being in significant ways, with 40% of U.S. adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression, increases in substance use, and thoughts of suicide.

“The need for mental health support is greater than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our families, livelihoods and communities, yet data has shown that nearly half of Florida adults with an unmet need for mental health treatment are deterred from seeking care because of cost,” said Dr. Paul Simeone, vice president and medical director of behavioral health at Lee Health, in a prepared statement.

To address this urgent and increased need for support on a local level, 25 behavioral health organizations across Lee and Collier counties have partnered to launch a new community initiative called Healthy Minds. These include: The David Lawrence Centers, Elite DNA Therapy Services, Florida Gulf Coast University, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, Healthcare Network, Healthy Lee, Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida, Lee Health, Park Royal, SalusCare, United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties, Center for Progress & Excellence (CPE), Hope Clubhouse, My Florida Families, Centerstone, Hope Hospice, Samaritan Health, Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Home Base, Chrysalis Health and Valerie’s House. Additional community partners include Better Together, Kimmie’s Recovery Zone, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI and The School District of Lee County.

Beginning this week, Healthy Minds will offer presentations to senior communities, local agencies and professional and community organizations. In addition, outreach events will be held where education, resources, and referral information will be provided. All events will include complimentary screenings across Lee and Collier counties, convenient tips on how best to cope with stress, and low/no cost resources for adults who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and other difficulties. These might include financial strain secondary to under/unemployment, demands of homeschooling young children, isolation and loss of control. For those who are overwhelmed or struggling, seeking help sooner than later can address challenges before they become crises.

“The Healthy Minds initiative was created to help address this urgent need for support, linking access to mental health providers in an affordable and friendly setting to connect people to the resources they need and the care they deserve,” said Simeone.

Healthy Minds presentations are being scheduled now so don’t wait to take advantage of these resources, officials said.

No advance registration is necessary for the health fairs and other outreach events. Those interested in resources, or a free screening, can simply attend the event and speak to an expert who will then help link them and loved ones with local service providers and available community resources. For those wishing to schedule presentations or events in Lee or Collier counties, please complete a scheduling request at https://healthylee.com/healthy-minds-presentation-request-form/. A Healthy Minds Resilience Toolkit, which offers additional tips for navigating life’s twists and turns, will be handed out to all guests at all events and presentations. The toolkits and fillable questionnaires – available in English, Spanish and Creole – are also accessible at HealthyLee.com/HealthyMinds . For a full list of upcoming events and resources visit HealthyLee.com/HealthyMinds .

About Healthy Lee

Comprised of more than 300 Lee County businesses and organizations, the Healthy Lee initiative reflects Lee County’s comprehensive sustainability strategy through promoting the integration of healthy lifestyle choices into the daily routines of the Lee County community. The movement promotes collaborative partnerships and seeks to provide resources, tools and knowledge to empower the community to make exercise, nutrition and well-being a priority. For more information, visit www.HealthyLee.com .