LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The month of May is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month and on Monday leaders at Lee Health opened up a public forum for the community to understand more about what's being done now for behavioral health issues.
Behavioral health issues can be a complex topic and difficult for some as many may feel alone but leaders at Golisano Children's Hospital say the number one message is to speak up because there are programs to help you and your children.
Dr. Paul Simeone, the Vice President and Medical Director of Behavioral Health at Lee Health says right now leaders are seeing a severe epidemic in behavioral health issues across the board, even with kids as young as 5 as he focused on a recent child's story to give a better perspective, even though it's hard to hear.
"What happened was this is a 5-year-old who heard his folks talking about financial difficulties and the possibility of losing their house and job and he reasoned that if he weren't there anymore he wouldn't be a burden so he started to think about taking his own life because of that. He tried to make sense of how can I help my parents and reasoned if I'm not here anymore one less person to feed," says Dr. Simeone.
Dr. Simeone says people need to be aware at all times and notice signs. To get help for yourself or for your children because there are resources here for you right now here in Southwest Florida. One of those programs is called Kids Minds Matter and this family knows firsthand how it can be life-changing.
12-year-old Ella Lyman says, "Like tell people don't just sit there and like be sad about it because if you don't tell anyone it won't get better because you can't get help."
Ella explains she went to her parents for help. Her mom Lisa says, "She came to me we had noticed that she felt very anxious, sad you know at that point she had kids making fun of her at school we were getting phone calls from the school saying she's not physically okay to get through the day."
That's where the Kids Minds Matter program came in.
"It gave me an ability as a parent to feel like I wasn't alone she wasn't alone we can fix this," says Lisa Lyman, as she has seen a huge change in her daughter's behavioral health. "Her overall happiness I mean you can see with her she's bubbly she's happy now whereas when we first got in the program she didn't want to leave the house."
Her advice as a mother is the same advice from multiple doctors and psychologists on Monday.
"Speak up the biggest thing is don't think your alone you're not there are people in this community that can help they want to help you just need to ask."
Right now there are programs Lee Health offers for classes, workshops and Lee Health says they are free to visit www.leehealth.org/classesLee Memorial Health System Class & Conference Registration
Lee Health says you can also call 239-343-5101 for the Kids Minds Matter option.