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Mental health facilities see surge in demand due to growth, pandemic

One of Naples' largest centers needs to expand
Posted at 7:58 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 19:58:39-05

NAPLES, Fla. — A local mental health center is expanding to allow it to help more people. And mental health experts tell us they’ve seen a sharp rise in demand for their services.

The David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health, which treat mental health and addiction issues, is adding 15 beds to its crisis unit in Naples. That’s a 50-percent increase for the center, which currently has 30 crisis beds at its main campus.

Officials from David Lawrence say that demand is so great that they’re looking to build a new $25 million facility that would triple its capacity.

“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in all of our different service areas,” said Scott Burgess, CEO of the David Lawrence Centers

Burgess said that increase can be seen in the crisis unit, which has 30 beds for people who are considered a danger to themselves and others. The CEO said most days David Lawrence has 40 people or more in the crisis unit.

However, the center isn’t the only mental health facility that’s feeling overwhelmed.

Eileen Streight works at the Collier County branch of the National Association of Mental Illness. She said the center has seen calls for services triple in the past two years.

“I’ve never seen a need like this,” said Streight, who’s worked at NAMI Collier for nine years. “It started with the pandemic, and now with everything going on with rental prices, gasoline — I think everyone is feeling a little anxiety. But just imagine when people already are dealing with severe mental illness, how that can be on top of that.”

A rise in Collier County’s population means more people seeking help. However, Burgess said that while the county’s population has gone up 21 percent in the past nine years, David Lawrence Center has seen the use of its services go up 105 percent.

In the coming weeks, the Collier County commissioners will vote on final approval for David Lawrence’s new $25 million center. The new building will have 100 additional beds for adult, while the 45 beds at this current campus will be used for children.