homepage logo

Workshop to focus on mental health, PTSD and more

By Staff | Nov 6, 2019

Scott G. Hartford

F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva, in partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation of Naples, Fort Myers Veterans Center and United Way of Lee, Glades and Hendry Counties, will offer “Figuring Out The Pieces of the Puzzle” on Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to noon at The Community House, at 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.

It is the second workshop in a new series that F.I.S.H. has developed, with local mental health experts, focusing on various aspects of mental health and well-being. The series hopes to provide a forum to introduce reliable information and begin a community conversation to raise awareness and to reduce stigma associated with mental and behavioral wellness.

“Figuring Out the Pieces of the Puzzle” will focus on mental health and addictive behaviors, substance abuse, the opioid epidemic and neurocognitive disorders, such as traumatic brain injury, mood disorders, dementia and bipolar disorder. PTSD and anxiety also will be discussed.

Regional mental health experts on the panel who will lead the discussion include: Scott G. Hartford, Fort Myers Veterans Center, specialist, Veteran Outreach Program “Keeping the Promise”; Jeremy Gentile, Mission United Program manager and Marine Corps combat veteran, United Way of Lee, Glades and Hendry Counties; Dr. Brigitte Belanger, retired assistant professor, Occupational Therapy Program, Department of Rehabilitation Services, Florida Gulf Coast University; and Dan Simmons, counselor, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation of Naples.

“Too often clients and loved ones wait until a disease has devastated their quality of life to seek support. Reacting when a crisis arises often leads to pressured, reactive decisions,” Belanger said. “Early intervention can offer simple, practical alternatives and solutions that can prevent or mitigate undue hardship. The key to quality of life is better understanding, coupled with intervention aimed at addressing issues early rather than avoiding or ignoring concerns that can have devastating costly consequences.”

Jeremy Gentile

Belanger earned her Doctor of Science from Baylor University in 2011. Her military training in mental health and brain trauma were enhanced by hands-on experiences during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a concussion care specialist and combat operational stress officer. At FGCU, Belanger’s research has focused on veteran support services and the creation of educational strategies and modalities for caregivers and clients struggling with neurocognitive deficits. She has developed educational material and interventions based on evidence-based practice designed to enhance the quality of life of those affected by neurocognitive diseases.

“This presentation is another opportunity for participants to become more educationally aware of the various and complex components of mental health,” F.I.S.H. Program Director Kathy Y. Monroe said. “You cannot look at someone and tell whether they are mentally healthy. However, the more educated a person becomes about symptoms, signs and behaviors leading up to mental illness, the better prepared one is to handle situations with their loved ones, friends or selves.”

For more information, call Kathy Y. Monroe or Anthony Morales at 239-472-4775.

Dr. Brigitte Belanger

Dan Simmons