Vickie Scanlon

Vickie Scanlon, CEO of Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, spoke at the Drug Free Punta Gorda meeting Tuesday at Hurricane Charley’s.

Vickie Scanlon, CEO of Charlotte Behavioral Health Care, talked to Drug Free Punta Gorda Tuesday about putting out fires.

She started off by quoting a colleague, who recently said to her: “I came into this field to do the right things, to help people to make a difference. Unfortunately, you can become discouraged over time. You rush to dump water on the flames that are raging before you, in front of you, and meanwhile flames are raging behind you.”

What are the fires?

In Florida, 13% of kids ages 12 to 17 have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Thirty-one percent of Florida high school students had persistent feelings of hopelessness, and 17% seriously considered suicide, Scanlon said.

In Charlotte County, recent data shows things are even more dire than the rest of the state. Scanlon said Charlotte County’s rate of child abuse is twice that of Florida overall; the county has three times the rate of kids with emotional and behavioral issues and twice the rate of Baker Acts. Suicide rates for minors are nearly four times the Florida average.

Why is this happening?

The opiate crisis is a major factor. Children of parents dealing with substance abuse and addiction are likely to suffer trauma and may have their own mental health and substance abuse issues as a result.

What’s being done?

Charlotte Behavioral Health Care is working to eliminate barriers to treatment by providing a variety of options:

• Providing in-home services for families designed to keep children, reducing the trauma of parental separation, while ensuring a safe environment.

• Offering more walk-in assessments and treatment, as well as video sessions through Telehealth, to erase transportation barriers and allow patients to access service when they need and want those services.

• Providing Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction, including both Vivitrol and Sublocade, the injectable form of suboxone.

Email: anne.easker@yoursun.com

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