(Story from November Old Naples News)
Collier Coalition for Healthy Minds (CCHM) is charged with mobilizing Collier County’s first-ever, five-year mental health and addiction services strategic plan.
The Coalition was born out of an Ad Hoc committee with members appointed by the Collier County Board of Commissioners whose sole purpose was to create the strategic plan. The plan was adopted in December 2019 and CCHM was formerly established in 2020 with expanded community members representing healthcare, social service, legal and justice system professionals, and mental health advocates.
The CCHM mission is to respond to the growing mental health and addiction crisis currently being compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, opioid epidemic, and suicide crisis.
“All Americans face challenges in life that can impact their mental health, especially during a pandemic. The coalition is focused on creating awareness around what individuals can do throughout their daily lives to prioritize mental health, and build resiliency,” said Scott Burgess, CEO of David Lawrence Centers and Chair of Collier Coalition for Healthy Minds. “Our partners are collaboratively focused on developing evidence-informed tools and resources that can support the well-being of individuals and our community. Our message is simple, with effective, accessible, and holistic support, individuals with mental health challenges can recover and lead full, productive lives.”
CCHM priorities include crisis support, housing, data sharing, justice system response, transportation, education as well as special considerations for veterans and seniors.
Healthy Minds is now actively engaging the community to be part of the solution of the crisis in Collier County through in- person and virtual, customizable educational opportunities and special events as well as the launch of their new website.
To date, the coalition has provided education to more than 700 people about the county’s response to the crisis and the progress being made on each of the six priorities through 17 different organizational meetings such as churches, the Collier County Bar Association, Collier County League of Women Voters, Leadership Collier, Naples Rotary Club and Andy Solis’ Coffee with the Commissioner. For each speaking engagement, the Coalition presents a consistent message that strives to include three elements:
- The impact of mental illness and addiction on our community and how the coalition is working to address these issues
- Warning signs and symptoms of suicide, mental illness and substance use disorders in order to equip individuals with the tools needed to identify and support those who may be struggling
- Real-life experiences and/or personal testimonials on how mental illness and/or addiction has affected their life, helping to destigmatize these common challenges
CollierHealthyMinds.com is bringing awareness to their mission and the strategic plan’s six priorities. The website provides local and national resources, suicide prevention and a robust news section that highlights the community’s progress on the priorities and special considerations. Through the site’s Connect section, visitors can request educational presentations.
The site also boasts Wellness Tips where coalition partner agencies such as David Lawrence Centers for Mental Health, Blue Zones, NAMI, Hunger and Homeless Coalition, Wounded Warriors of Collier County, Lee Health, Project Help, and Collier County Public Schools supply information about healthy ways to manage your mental health. You can also find Caregiver Tips from CCHM volunteers with lived experience with helping loved ones battle mental illness and addiction.
Margot Moran, who recently lost her brother to suicide, is passionate about sharing her experience to help prevent unnecessary loss of life and suffering. In her Caregiver Tip, she talks about the importance of taking your loved one seriously if they talk about wanting to take their life.
“My brother was feeling suicidal, but he told me not to worry. He promised he would never do it. I felt a sigh of relief having suicide off the table,” said Moran. “I never asked him about it anymore because I didn’t want to put any ideas in his head. Unfortunately, that haunts me today. Follow up, ask your loved one questions about having suicidal thoughts, and check on them regularly. I sure wish I had.”
Funding for the development of the strategic plan as well as the CCHM marketing efforts has been provided by the Community Foundation of Collier County who is also a member of the Coalition. In a true community effort, Collier County voters also stepped up to fund the coalition’s number one priority a centralized, expanded mental health and substance addiction facility. In collaboration with other funders, the Community Foundation of Collier County is helping raise money to staff the facility and expand these local services through their “Your Passion. Your Collier.” campaign. The $15.5 million campaign will tackle six significant concerns: mental health & substance abuse, housing & hunger, education & employment, seniors & veterans, environment & accessibility, and crisis & disaster relief.
Join us in our efforts to help save lives. Engage with CCHM by becoming an advocate, talking about mental health and stopping the stigma, supporting our partner non-profits, learning more through educational opportunities, and signing up for Mental Health First Aid training. For more information, visit CollierHealthyMinds.com.