LABELLE — As the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic impacts have continued to complicate things, experts agree that complications relating to substance abuse and mental illness are on the rise. The situation has also created new challenges for people already suffering from these issues.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), research links social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health, “SAMHSA recognizes there are currently 57.8 million Americans living with mental and/or substance use disorders (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2018). The current national crisis of COVID-19 will certainly contribute to growth in these numbers. Americans across the country will struggle with increases in depression, anxiety, trauma and grief. There is also anticipated increase in substance misuse as lives are impacted for individuals and families.”
“Here in LaBelle, we have less providers, less funding, and mental healthcare or addiction treatment isn’t accessible for so many of us,” said longtime Hendry County resident, LaVonne Marcus, who says she suffers from anxiety and depression, and is battling substance use disorder. “Now, with the virus being a thing, and a lack of services, a lot of us have nowhere safe to turn.”
Several residents agreed with Marcus. While they did not want to be quoted here, they were adamant that with loss of employment, or having to stay home with no safe or affordable options for child care, they were experiencing severe challenges that require attention by mental health professionals.
Marcus, who is in recovery herself, also added, “For everyone who is fighting for sobriety for mental health — you are seen. I am proud of you. Recovery happens every day. If you are struggling, through this pandemic, know there is hope! Please reach out for support. If it is an emergency please call 911!”
Central Florida Behavioral Health Network Inc., reports there are many options for the citizens of Hendry and Glades to receive services and had not received any news of Hendry and Glades uninsured consumers unable to access behavioral health care in Hendry and/or Glades County. CFBHN is a nonprofit community services network, a coalition of substance abuse providers that currently contracts with over 60 provider organizations to offer a full array of mental health and substance abuse services. Their service area spans from Pasco in the north, throughout the Tampa Bay area, east through Polk, Highlands and Hardee and south from Desoto to Lee counties. The range of services includes acute care, residential treatment, housing, medical, outpatient and recovery support services. Substance abuse prevention services are also provided for at-risk children. They suggest for anyone with questions about provider services, to contact United Way by dialing 211.
Also, the Center for Progress and Excellence (CPE) is the Mobile Crisis Response Service Provider for Hendry and Glades. Alex Olivares is the CEO. Anyone can call CPE’s contact number, 844-395-4432. CPE is available 24/7, 365 days a year. CPE sees children/adults in Hendry/Glades county on a sliding scale. Substance use/mental services are in person. Call 239-689-8490; this is an in-person service.
Lutheran Services Florida sees children (ages 10-17) in Hendry/Glades schools for behavioral issues (school, family). This is a free service. Call 239-278-5400 for an appointment. Services are bilingual; this is an in-person service.
TLS Consulting is seeing adults in Hendry/ Glades. Fee depends on what a person comes in for. They see persons for substance use/mental health. Call 239-997-7770.