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Reg Buxton

We have all been affected directly or indirectly by someone with mental health issues. Fortunately there is no longer the stigma attached to seeking treatment for the wide range of chemical dependency and mental health issues. We applaud individuals who step forward, “own” their issues and seek assistance with treatment. What we do know is that both of these conditions are serious and both are underfunded nationally as well as in Collier County.

Although we have excellent programs in Naples, their full effectiveness has been hindered related to limited financial resources. County Commissioner Andy Solis has mentioned that, “Nobody is really coordinating all the moving pieces,” and has suggested creating an advisory board to do so. I think that he has a point. County Government provided 1.6 million dollars this year to the David Lawrence Center. The adults and children of Collier County who need mental health and substance abuse treatment can seek this help from the David Lawrence Center the prominent nonprofit provider in Collier County.

The Collier County jail provides primary housing for drug and alcohol addicted people and even those with mental illness, less than ideal, we can all agree. Lack of treatment availability can leave those with addictions or illness to have behaviors resulting in arrest and incarceration for crimes. This does not serve that population or society in general, resulting in expensive and costly band aid approaches with no resolution. David Lawrence Center is limited to 30 inpatient beds yet no half way facility is available once the patient is discharged.

It is imperative that we as a community begin dialogue with plan development for post treatment housing with expansion of in-patient treatment beds. Having served on the David Lawrence Foundation Board and Drug Free Collier Foundation Board I value, support and respect their work. Naples, what can we do to help?

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