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The State of Mental Health and Available Care Resources in Cape Coral, Florida
Cape Coral is located in southwest Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. One of the principal cities in the Cape Coral – Fort Myers Metropolitan Statistical Area, Cape Coral has a population of 183,365 residents as per the 2017 estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau. Its population grew by a whopping 18.8% since the 2010 census counts.
The Census Bureau estimates the per capita income in Cape Coral at $25,145, which is slightly lower than the average in both Florida ($27,598) and the United States ($29,829). Furthermore, 13.1% of Cape Coral’s population lives in poverty, compared to 14.0% average for Florida and 12.3% average for the entire country. Examining these socioeconomic factors when discussing mental health is important as low income is one of the main barriers to obtaining timely and effective treatment and care. Additionally, these individuals are more likely to experience poor mental health than their counterparts with higher incomes.
Another statistic closely related to an individual’s ability to receive mental health care is medical insurance. As reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of uninsured individuals under 65 years of age in Cape Coral is 20.3%. In comparison, the average for Florida is 15.9% and the average for the United States is 10.2%.
Many residents of Cape Coral would not seek treatment or counseling for their mental health issues due to these factors.
Mental Health Status of the Cape Coral Community
According to the CDC’s 500 Cities Project: Local Data for Better Health, 13.0% of Cape Coral residents over 18 years of age reported that their mental health was not good for at least 14 days in the past month. In Lee County, where Cape Coral is located, residents experience on average 3.7 days of poor mental health in a month. This number is on par with the 3.8 days average for Florida, however it is higher than the top performing counties in the country, where the average is 3.1 days.
Additionally, the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment Report for Lee County has identified mental health as the top health problem in this community, with 92.9% identifying it as a major or moderate problem. As in many other U.S. cities, depression and suicide are two of the top concerns. In Lee County, 22.1% of the population has been diagnosed with depression, and 30.0% of those individuals exhibit symptoms of chronic depression. The suicide rate in the county is 16.9 deaths per 100,000 residents, which is higher than the rate for both Florida and the United States.
Substance abuse was identified in the Assessment as the second highest health concern in the county, with 85% of the respondents considering it a major or moderate problem. In Lee County, 65.5% of the focus group respondents identified themselves as current drinkers and 26.8% as excessive drinkers. Furthermore, 4.5% admitted to illegal drug use in the past month and 5.4% reported marijuana use in the same time period. The death rate attributed to substance abuse in the county is 14.7 deaths per 100,000 population and a staggering 40.4% reported than their lives have been impacted negatively by substance abuse.
These startling facts illustrate the importance of making mental health care more affordable and accessible to individuals of all walks of life. It is also imperative to work toward eliminating the stigma associated with mental disorders and seeking treatment.
The Lack of Mental Health Resources in Cape Coral, Florida
According to the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment, access to mental health care and services is one of the major challenges associated with mental health in this community. Mental health services were identified by 65.4% as most difficult to access.
Aside from several private practices, Cape Coral has virtually no mental health services and residents often have to seek care in nearby Fort Myers.
Based in Fort Myers, SalusCare is a not-for-profit organization providing mental health and substance abuse services. SalusCare offers services on a sliding fee scale based on household income for children and adults and has a campus in Cape Coral along with several other area locations.
Lee Health, also based in Fort Myers, is a system of local acute care hospitals and an outpatient behavioral health center treating conditions such as mood, anxiety and personality disorders. Lee Health also has a pediatric behavioral program for children and teenagers with emotional, behavioral or mental health disorders.