Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida’s new Pediatric Behavioral Health Initiative will assist children with mental health and behavioral disorders and enable them to receive the proper diagnosis, the right treatment, and the best community resources to live successful and productive lives.

An estimated 46,000 children in Southwest Florida currently have or have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder. Providing services and financial support to these children and families has not been a top priority for the State of Florida nor the Southwest Florida Region.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that approximately 13% of children ages 8 to 15 had a diagnosable mental disorder within the previous year.
  • The most common disorder among children is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which affects 8.5% of the population.
  • Mood disorders represent 3.7%, and major depressive disorder represents 2.7% of children with mental disorders.
  • One in 66 children are estimated to have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
  • Suicide is the #2 cause of death in children ages 10-17.
  • Sadly, 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness.
  • More than 2/3 of the pediatric patient populations in Southwest Florida is Medicaid and low income.
  • On average, a child will need 16 sessions of therapy and counseling. That is approximately $2,500 to treat one child.

While these statistics are shocking, it’s the stories behind the numbers, the children and their families who struggle with mental and behavioral health conditions, that we need to focus on. “I had a teenage patient who lost her brother. They were very close, and she was devastated,” shares Dr. Emad Salman, System Medical Director for Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. “Sadly, the grief services she needed were not available locally to help her cope with the shock of losing her brother. She has made at least four attempts to take her life through overdoses and cutting herself. She has been admitted to the hospital to care for the acute problem, but is released once doctors determine she’s not an immediate danger to herself. But it’s a vicious cycle that keeps repeating.”

Not On My Watch!

As we look to the future and continue to provide high-quality, comprehensive care, pediatric behavioral health is a growing need and a priority for Lee Health and Southwest Florida. Because of caring advocates in our community, the conversation around this invisible illness has started!

Your tax-deductible philanthropic gift will provide essential funding to create a pediatric behavioral health program and assist with the hiring of mental and behavioral health professionals, provide in-patient and outpatient counseling and therapy, assist with case management and navigation, and support families of children with behavioral health issues.

“This is completely preventable. No child should die this way. This should not happen on my watch, not on OUR watch.” – Dr. Emad Salman

Thank you for being a part of the conversation and the solution.