Unmasking the Epidemic: Help & hope | News, Sports, Jobs

[email protected]

Sometimes it can make all the difference in the world just to know that there is someone to turn to.

For this reason, local organizations and community partners are working to overcome the perceived stigma of mental health via an online platform to help youth struggling with mental fatigue in a global pandemic that has turned their developmental years upside down. Showing ways of relief.

On March 18, Kids’ Minds Matter, a unitary movement in southwest Florida under the umbrella of Lee Health dedicated to advancing the pediatric mental and behavioral health service, will host their free event “Unmasking the Epidemic” virtual event to address the mental health impact on local youth.

“Our children are suffering and it is still a challenge to keep up with the growing demand.” said Dr. Paul Simeone, vice president of mental and behavioral health services, Lee Health. “As we have expanded our services, programs, and support, the demand continues to exceed the resources available. With ongoing awareness and efforts to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, more and more families are calling us to help their children in need. “

According to Lee Health, an estimated 46,000 children in southwest Florida are affected by mental and behavioral disorders, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, psychosis, substance abuse, autism, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These conditions have been exacerbated by the isolation and insecurity of the pandemic.

In 2017, Golisano Children’s Hospital had more than 6,900 pediatric mental health visits. In 2020, these visits exceeded 16,000. As the pandemic progresses, the need for local psychiatric services also increases.

“For years, mental health has not been treated equally in terms of willingness to seek help. If you stopped and wondered if your child was diagnosed with a disease like cancer or diabetes, you wouldn’t stop them from getting help. However, many families are embarrassed to accept or know that their child is in trouble. “ said Armando Llechu, chief officer of hospital operations and women’s and children’s services at Lee Health. “We know the evidence shows that it takes years and years for symptoms to start and for these children to actually get help. We hope that by exposing the fact that this problem is widespread and occurring throughout our community, families will better understand that it is not about bad children but children who, like everyone else, need help . And we’re here to help. “

The keynote speaker for the event will be Brad Hunstable, founder of Hayden’s Corner. Hunstable lost his son Hayden to suicide in the middle of an assignment on April 17, 2020, just four days before his 13th birthday. His father said Hayden did not struggle with depression, nor had he had any previous mental health problems. His parents attribute Hayden’s emotional suffering to a “Perfect storm of routine interruptions, social isolation, increased gaming, and a pressure pile of activity cancellations.” It all came about from the orders that stay at home after the pandemic.

In addition to Hunstable, local youth from across the county will also share their stories.

“I think it’s going to bring a very strong message about sustaining your child. A conversation that I know is difficult, heartbreaking and really hard to lead.” said Alyssa Bostwick, vice president of operations and chief nurse executive at Golisano Children’s Hospital in southwest Florida. “My only hope is that we can have parents, and really anyone who interacts with children in any form in their life, to tune in and just hear their story.

“As well as the stories of the children who will also speak at this event and maybe connect with their peers who feel a certain way and don’t even know how to behave, but know that it’s okay and they can seek an avenue for help. “

Today more than ever, young people need a point of sale to deal with their fears, worries and fears. Suicide rates across the country have risen since the pandemic began and are the second leading cause of death among 10- to 34-year-olds. According to statistics from Lee Health, 50% of all lifelong mental illnesses begin by age 14, and one in six US teenagers ages 6-17 has a mental disorder every year.

Every child can have a mental health problem.

“It affects families of all financial classes, of all ethnicities, of all races.” They lurked. “It doesn’t matter what your zip code is. Mental and behavioral health problems are indiscriminate.”

Experts say the adolescent mental health issue was a cause for concern even before the arrival of COVID-19. From 2019 to 2020, Golisano alone saw the number of Baker Acted increase 36% (including a 65% increase in the first three months of the school year).

The Baker Act allows a temporary obligation for people in a mental crisis who are considered to be a danger to themselves or others.

“Before the pandemic, we had a mental behavior problem in this country, and the restrictions that the pandemic has placed on all of us – personally and socially – have escalated those problems.” Llechu added that many children and teenagers can see the stress and household tension associated with the financial crisis and other family problems caused by the coronavirus. “Children are smart and watch out and see what is going on around them. Add to this the fear and uncertainty of the future – will things return to what they knew to be normal? What happens to their social circles? “

Llechu noted that progress had been made before the pandemic started but has increased again.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the existing problem. We had a problem. Now we have a bigger problem. “

Cape Coral mother Jeanne Beaulie and daughter Gabby learned what can lead to mental health fatigue.

Gabby, who will speak at the virtual event, tried to take her own life by overdosing at school when she was 13. She now boldly stands up for others who are dealing with similar obstacles to show them that they are not alone.

“She decided that she wanted to share her story in order to remove the stigma of insanity and that sometimes people really need to understand that it is a chemical imbalance and doesn’t have to be shameful.” Said Beaulie.

Gabby, now 15 years old and adopted from birth, was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome at age 10 and discovered she had a tumor on her hip at age 13.

She missed October through January of her eighth grade to have the tumor removed and on her return found it difficult to re-acclimate to social circles and even experienced chronic bullying after advocating for a classmate.

“It was difficult for her to be overtaken by her death.” Said Beaulie.

Her mother remembers being upset the night before the incident and thinking she was doing homework upstairs, but Gabby searched the internet for ways to end her life. The next morning she picked up a box of Advil Cold and Sinuses and went to the bathroom at school and took 18 pills.

Beaulie said her daughter got sleepy and went to the nurse she was on good terms with and told her what she had done. Gabby was then taken to the Golisano Children’s Hospital and Baker Acted shortly afterwards.

Beaulie said following the incident, Gabby was on the right track with therapy and medicine. A consequence of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a frequent fluctuation in hormones that creates ups and downs.

“The doctor worked closely with us to make sure we had the best help regulating her hormones.” Said Beaulie. “Regulation took years. It’s been a long journey getting everything right. “

Another tumor was found last October, this time on her neck. Gabby underwent surgery in December at Boston Children’s Hospital, where the rare benign tumor that usually occurs in adults was removed.

“The physical part of recovery is more difficult than the mental” Said Beaulie. “She has a vision that she is a broken person because no one can give her an answer as to why the tumors are recurring. To be 15 years old and not know it – it’s frustrating. There are days when she feels so overwhelmed and things are too much. “

Despite the good and bad days, Gabby didn’t let obstacles get in the way of her efforts, and she gave it a try for the cheerleading team and also took advanced classes in high school.

“She said, ‘Mom, I refuse to be invisible.'”

Beaulie is working with local health experts to create it “Gabby’s Room” Telemedicine rooms are to be established in schools across Lee County’s school district where students can access therapists, social workers, and other support services.

“There’s no reason why we don’t close the hospital-school gap and provide these resources.” She said. “There are thousands of telemedicine psychologists available online anytime. We are both excited about the fact that this needs to be done. “

Founded in 2016 by Scott Spiezle and Susan Goldy, Kids’ Minds Matter is a unitary movement in southwest Florida dedicated to promoting pediatric mental and behavioral health services. By developing clinical avenues for examining and treating patients, raising public awareness through education, and lobbying for systemic change and sustainable funding, Kids’ Minds Matter aims to target mental health providers, local authorities, the justice system, law enforcement, schools and Bringing faith communities into harmony. based organizations.

The virtual doors will open at 6:30 pm with a preview of programs and resources from regional health authorities and community partners from Kids’ Minds Matter, Golisano Children’s Hospital and Lee Health. During the event, local students will be introduced to share their personal issues with mental health issues and explain why they are advocating for improved mental health services.

To register for the event, visit www.KidsMindsMatter.com/Unmasking or call 239-214-0921.

–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

Comments are closed.