New initiative provides mental and behavioral health services for children

Susan Goldy and Scott Spiezle moved to Southwest Florida five years ago. Upon their arrival, they saw a need for mental and behavioral health care for children.

“The need here was astounding,” Spiezle said. “There was absolutely nothing available.”

Mental and behavioral health care for children hits home for this couple as their daughter is battling bi-polar disorder. Bi-polar disorder is a brain disorder where the person experiences unusual shifts in mood, energy and activity levels, which inhibits the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

“She was suicidal,” Spiezle said. “She would come in and say, ‘dad I think I’m going to hurt myself tonight,’ and I would sleep on the floor so I was nearby if she got up and having bad thoughts.”

They teamed up with Lee Health to announce, The Kids Minds Matter Initiative. The program will offer services in and out of Golisano Children’s Hospital for families dealing with any type of mental health issue. As well as educate the community.

In Southwest Florida, nearly 46,000 children are struggling with mental health or behavioral issues.

“To raise awareness, so that parents can recognize where teachers can recognize that there is a child who struggling with something,” Goldy said. “They may not know exactly what it is.”

“It’s about the community that surrounds the hospital, so they will be outpatient care there be a telepsychiatry care,” John Chomeau said, chief population health officer at Lee Health.

Susan Goldy and Scott Spiezle whose daughter battles bi-polar disorder. Photo via WINK News.
Susan Goldy and Scott Spiezle whose daughter battles bi-polar disorder. Photo via WINK News.

Lee Health recognizes that other disorders influence the onset of bi-polar disorder. Also, that these disorder impact children in Southwest Florida, even if they do not have bi-polar disorder; therefore, the hospital plans to offer these services, too.

“There will be care through cognitive behavioral therapy that is really down on any device. An iPad and iPhone that will treat anxiety and depression and substance abuse and trauma.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness said the average delay for children to receive care between when symptoms begin to show is eight to 10 years The Lee Health initiative aims to decrease that figure in this region.

“Without those services,” Spiezle said, “I don’t believe my daughter would be here today.”

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