Prioritize Mental Wellness by Scott Burgess, President and CEO of DLC for Behavioral Health

Amid the stress, isolation, uncertainty, and grief that many have experienced during the pandemic, healthcare and social service agencies across the country have seen a dramatic and alarming rise in mental health and substance use concerns – especially among our youth.

In early 2021, United States emergency department visits for suspected suicide attempts soared by nearly 51% among girls 12 to 17 and increased by nearly 4% among adolescent boys. This impacted children locally as well at David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC), which experienced a 56% increase in admissions to the Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit in fiscal year 2021 – a crisis that strained the bed capacity and required a 15 bed expansion to the Unit.

By the end of 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in children’s mental health. As the opioid epidemic rages on, adults are also struggling. Far too many are dying of overdoses and countless others are overwhelming our judicial and healthcare systems.

Provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate that there were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the United States during a 12 month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% of deaths.

Across the entire continuum of care at DLC, a record-breaking number of services were provided to children and adults in Fiscal year 2021 – a number that has already been rising year over year as this mental health and addiction crisis continues to worsen. Not a single person has been left untouched by stress, anxiety and fear from the pandemic.

The conversation around mental health and wellbeing has never been more relevant. And the need to prioritize our mental wellbeing has never been more important. In addition to improving access to evidence-based treatment, DLC is committed to promoting how to prevent a mental health crisis and intervene early when symptoms arise. That’s why DLC is inviting the community to prioritize mental health in 2022 through a new community initiative, Mind Your Mind.

Garrett and Diana Richter,
DLC Volunteers, Mental Health
Advocates and Philanthropists

Throughout the next 12 months, DLC will work with community partners and leaders to focus on important and relevant topics around mental health and addiction. This month by-month approach to community mental wellness will highlight a different mental health topic; provide resources, positive content, tips and exercises for enhanced mindfulness and wellbeing; and feature opportunities to support community mental health whether at home, school, or workplace.

Designated website content at offers free access to relevant articles, videos, and other resources that will enhance and advance community wellbeing. On the site, visitors can also sign up for a monthly Mind Your Mind e-newsletter.

This year long community initiative will send useful content right to people’s inbox and newsfeeds each month to help them focus on mental wellness and learn how to support others in the community who may be struggling.

It’s time to make mental wellness a priority and end the mental health crisis plaguing far too many families in our community. The goal of Mind Your Mind is to bring attention to emotional health, encourage earlier intervention, and better ensure our kids and community are healthy, well, and safe.

Mind Your Mind is about raising awareness, decreasing stigma, promoting collaborations, and increasing screening and follow-up care. It encourages openness, acceptance and action. We are only as strong as our most vulnerable community member.

To learn how you can take action to prioritize your wellbeing in 2022 for yourself, or others in our community, visit and let DLC remind you each month how to Mind your Mind in the year ahead.

Scott Burgess is the President and CEO of David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC), Collier County’s only comprehensive, not-for-profit mental health and addiction recovery treatment center serving children, adults and families.

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