Collier health center says more people seeking mental health help

A mom and daughter say one Florida law changed their lives. The daughter was committed to a psychiatric facility out of need, and she’s not alone. The number of people also seeking the same kind of help is reportedly skyrocketing in areas of Southwest Florida.

The David Lawrence Center in Collier County reports more people are getting mental health help, and it’s in part because the negative ideas surrounding mental illness and seeking help is losing its stigma.

A Family in Collier County, who asked to not have their full names published or aired, say the Baker Act not only made a difference but saved their daughter’s life.

“I started to see a difference in her, and she was not that happy-go-lucky girl anymore,” said Karen, whose daughter lives with mental health issues.

Karen remembers the young, energetic girl her daughter, Sarah, was before her depression got the best of her, leaving Sarah no choice but to dial 911.

“It was the hardest decision I ever had to make,” Karen said. “Toughest phone call a parent has to make.”

That’s when Sarah went to get help through the Baker Act, a Florida statute that allows people with mental illness to be involuntarily admitted for medical help.

“When I first started self-harming and when I tried to commit suicide, it was a cry for help,” Sarah said. “Because I wanted help. I just don’t know how to ask for it.”

According to David Lawrence Center, within the last two to three years, there has been an uptick in young people admitted through the law.

Collier County is still below statewide average for Baker Act cases. Still, David Lawrence Centers’ resources have expanded for its patients’ needs. The center expects to add a few more beds to house more patients who are in need and keep them local.

From 2017 to 2018, there have been 715 calls made to Collier County Sheriff’s Office related to emergencies for mental health patients. The patients are usually ages 13 to 17 years old, who need help with anxiety, depression or bullying.

“Feeling like she’s being bullied at school, feeling like she was being abandoned, feeling like she was not worthy,” Karen said. “And that she wasn’t good enough.”

When patients seek help, they are able to develop ways to cope, and those measures saved Sarah’s life.

“Skills that are going to help me in the real life outside of group life,” Sarah said. “Outside of being Baker Acted life, outside of hospitals life, outside of self-harming life. Real life.”


Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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