An Overview of Mental Health in Fort Myers, Florida
Fort Myers is an interesting town located along the Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida. The city of 79,943 is known as one of the best places in the US to retire, but it also has an active younger population. There are more than four beautiful beaches within a one-hour drive from town, providing lots of leisurely activities for sailors, sunbathers, swimmers, anglers and boaters. The tropical climate means that summers can be quite hot and humid, but the weather is pleasant the rest of the year. The city also has a charming downtown area that residents enjoy visiting.
Mental Health in Fort Myers
The residents of Fort Myers do face some unique challenges under the intense Florida sun.
- Natural Disasters: Although the Gulf Coast does not get as many hurricanes as other areas of the country, the threat of natural disasters can lead to stress and anxiety. It could be difficult for the many elderly residents to evacuate if necessary.
- Crime: Unfortunately, Fort Myers is not the safest town in Florida. Its violent crime rate is more than twice that of Florida. One site even listed it as one of the 100 most dangerous cities in the US. Victims of crime may need mental health care to recover from post-traumatic stress. People who live in areas with higher crime rates may need help coping with fear and anxiety.
- Substance Abuse: A community health needs assessment (CHNA) listed substance abuse – including excessive drinking, drinking and driving and illicit drug use – as one of the top health concerns in the area.
- Poverty: 20.6% of Fort Myers’ residents struggle to make ends meet. This percentage of the population who live below the poverty line may encounter multiple, intertwined physical and mental health challenges.
- Obesity: The growing number of overweight and obese residents was also listed as a top concern on the CHNA. This trend can often lead to other health challenges.
- Suicide: The CHNA also indicated that the suicide rate in Lee County is higher than the statewide and national rates. Anyone who has had thoughts of suicide or who has lost a loved one to suicide may benefit from mental health services.
The Challenge of Finding a Suitable Therapist in Fort Myers
Florida ranks relatively poorly in terms of access to mental health care. Out of 50 states, it ranked 44th in a national assessment of access to insurance and mental health care services. The CHNA indicated that mental health is a “major problem” in Lee County due to very few resources and lack of in-patient and long-term care facilities.
Other obstacles to care are more financial in nature. In Fort Myers, 24.4% of the residents do not have health insurance. The lack of coverage, along with poverty trends in the area, are likely to be the biggest obstacles to receiving treatment for mental health issues.
There are some alternatives to traditional in-person therapy that may be able to help individuals for whom these services are a financial burden. Non-profits and community organizations may offer sliding scale or discounted services. Phone and online forms of therapy may also be more affordable.
Mental Health Resources in Fort Myers
Despite these challenges, there are multiple licensed mental health counselors, licensed clinical social workers and licensed clinical psychologist who work with clients in the Fort Myers area. A few of them even have more than a decade of experience as mental health professionals.
These therapists have worked with children and adults in a variety of settings including schools, residential settings, hospitals, outpatient facilities and detox centers. Their training covers a range of modalities including goal-based counseling, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness techniques, narrative therapy, positive psychology, solution-focused, dialectical behavioral therapy and trauma focused-cognitive behavioral therapy. They work with each patient individually to evaluate goals and develop a treatment plan.
These counselors have helped clients struggling with multiple life challenges. They have particular expertise in treating substance abuse disorders, anxiety, anger management, depression, self-esteem issues, family conflict, caregiver concerns, behavioral issues, grief, trauma and abuse, adjustment difficulties, sleep problems and coping with chronic medical illness.
Find a Therapist in Fort Myers
Individuals in Fort Myers who are looking for the support of a qualified and compassionate therapist should consult E-Counseling’s directory. This list includes professionals with years of experience working with individuals of all backgrounds facing a wide range of life challenges.