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The Rapidly Growing Need for Mental Health Services for Children in SWFL

Amanda Inscore/The News-Press USA TODAY NETWORK - FLORIDA

Florida has long ranked at or near the bottom when it comes to spending for state-managed mental health programs. And while the lack of available mental health services, for people of all ages, is a statewide problem, it’s particularly acute here in Southwest Florida. In Lee, Collier and Charlotte Counties there is roughly one mental health provider per 1000 residents -- that’s compared to the state average of about one in 670 people. Add to that shortage the dramatic increase in the number of children who are experiencing anxiety, depression, and who are self-harming, and threatening or attempting suicide, and we have a serious mental health problem on our hands, and it’s only getting worse.

We’re joined by two reporters for the News Press and USA Today Network to get a debrief on the feature story that was published in yesterday’s edition of the paper. Janine Zeitlin is a storyteller for the News Press, and Frank Gluck is a Health care watchdog reporter for the paper. We also meet a local teen, Anna Barry, who has become an advocate for this issue by founding the Student Alliance on Mental Illness or SAMI.