Trauma After the Hurricane: Mental and Behavioral Health Services

In recent years, Southwest Florida has had too many opportunities to show its strength and spirit. We recovered from 2017’s Hurricane Irma to face the COVID-19 pandemic, and now are being tested by Hurricane Ian. With devastation and loss come understandable impacts to mental health and wellness. Fortunately, Collier County has multiple organizations working hard to ensure people have ready access to the help and services they need. The first, and hardest, step may well be asking for the help. Future Ready Collier wants you to know that the help is there, and ready to hear from you.

Beth Hatch, CEO of NAMI Collier County, speaks in this video interview with AccuWeather, about the complexity of emotional responses after a disaster like Hurricane Ian. For those who lost loved ones in the storm, or lost cars and homes or other property, it is natural to feel grief as we begin to grapple with personal recovery as well as clean-up. A natural disaster such as a major hurricane is a trauma, and it is important for people to recognize their own needs. Even for those who did not suffer losses from Hurricane Ian, there may be feelings of survivor’s guilt. For all, the process of understanding what happened and taking the steps to heal begins with ensuring our basic needs are met: food, sleep, social connection. NAMI offers many services to the community, among them their peer-run Warm Line. Anyone may call (800) 945-1355, seven days a week, 4pm to 10pm, to talk to an understanding individual.

The David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health offer direct services for those who need mental and behavioral health help, as well as useful events for the community. For example, their trained experts host free sessions to teach participants about Youth Mental Health First Aid and Adult Mental Health First Aid. These trainings help participants learn how to watch for and identify risk factors, and gain the skills to begin to support those in crisis while they seek professional assistance. If someone is in immediate crisis and in need of emergency services, call 911, or call David Lawrence Centers’ 24-hour phone line at (239) 455-8500.

Healthcare Network is perhaps most known for delivering high-quality medical care, including dental services, throughout Collier County. But, this network of community health centers also offers behavioral health care. Their Center for Psychology and Wellness sees children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. Help with language interpretation is available. Also, as with all that they do, Healthcare Network accepts payments on a sliding fee scale. No insurance is needed, and anyone may see a healthcare provider. Parents can reference this helpful page on their website if they are concerned about their children’s mental or behavioral wellness. To contact Healthcare Network, call (239) 658-3000.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is normal and okay to feel stressed, worried, afraid, grief, or any number of other emotions after having been through a traumatic experience. The second-most important thing to keep in mind is that there are many caring people throughout Southwest Florida who make it their daily mission to help. If you have any questions about these resources or other needs, feel free to reach out to Future Ready Collier at