David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC), Collier County’s only comprehensive, not-for-profit behavioral health provider serving children, adults and families, will expand access to evidence-based trauma therapy for local Veterans through a partnership with Home Base SWFL.
Through a grant provided by the Community Foundation of Collier County, Home Base SWFL, a local non-profit founded by the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital dedicated to supporting Veterans, Service Members and Military Families impacted by the invisible wounds, is sharing its world-class clinical expertise with local clinicians to better serve the needs of Florida Veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress.
Through the collaboration, DLC will now provide cognitive processing therapy (CPT), a gold standard treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is especially acute among war Veterans. According to the National Health Study for a New Generation of US Veterans, approximately 13% of Veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom and their families screened positive for PTSD. Not only are recent Veterans at higher risk of suffering from PTSD than those in the general population, they also face unique barriers to accessing adequate treatment.
The COVID-19 pandemic created a “perfect storm” that threatens the mental health of many Veterans, particularly those with pre-existing mental health conditions such as PTSD. There is also a real concern that increased mental health symptoms, coupled with a sense of isolation and lost employment or wages, can increase the Veteran suicide rate, which is already elevated relative to the general population. Veterans now account for 20% of all suicides in the U.S., with the youngest (18–24 years of age) being four times more likely to commit suicide than their nonveteran counterparts of the same age.
“As the national and local leader on the frontlines of Veteran’s mental health, having more trained clinicians to better deal with the financial and mental health implications this pandemic will bring now and into the future is a priority for Home Base SWFL,” said Armando Hernandez Home Base SWFL Program Director. “Florida has a greatly underfunded and under-resourced mental health care system – especially for the large population of military families in the state.”
Three DLC outpatient clinicians have completed the rigorous training program which will now be available in Naples, Immokalee and through Crossroads, DLC’s adult addiction recovery services. As Veterans are enrolled into the new therapy, Home Base will now provide the trained therapists 26 weeks of ongoing consultation after which each therapist will be certified.
Michele Santora, DLC Crossroads Outpatient Clinician, who participated in the Home Base CPT training said, “CPT helps Veterans with PTSD by challenging their thought processes and negative core beliefs. We help the Veteran recognize their stuck points and teach them to challenge and replace those negative thoughts.”
Santora has already identified clients with PTSD who can benefit from CPT and is anxious to begin enrolling Collier County Veterans who don’t currently have convenient access to these services locally.
Jason Cooper, a US Marine Corps Veteran who served on more than 100 combat missions in Iraq as tactical air control in 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, credits the CPT he received through Home Base’s Intensive Clinical Program for helping him learn the tools he needed to deal with his PTSD, hypervigilance and anxiety.
“CPT connected a lot of dots for me. I realized why I interpret things the way I do,” Cooper said. “I learned how to diminish my strong emotional responses and use my wise mind not my emotional mind.”
Improving access to services for Veterans as well as increasing evidence-based practices is outlined in Collier County’s new five-year strategic plan for mental health and addiction services. The Board of County Commissioners approved plan serves as a road map for community partners, donors and government leaders as they mobilize responses to address associated current and future challenges.
DLC recently launched a new Veterans Services Program designed to build meaningful partnerships with Veterans and their families to help them function better at home, in the community, on the job, in educational settings and throughout life. Through the program, a Peer Veteran Case Manager helps Veterans access evidence-informed, trauma-specific treatments such as the new cognitive processing therapy. CPT will complement many of the advanced, holistic and proven therapies DLC has available for local Veterans such as trauma incident reduction, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Veteran’s Treatment Court, Mindfulness and much more.
Southwest Florida nonprofit David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) is a national leader providing compassionate, advanced, and exceptional mental health, substance use, and integrated healthcare solutions, available for children, adolescents and adults. DLC’s innovative treatment includes inpatient, outpatient, residential, and community-based services – a comprehensive system of care funded by community and government support. Each year, DLC serves more than 9,000 people through over 290,000 treatment sessions. To learn more, please call 239-455-8500 or visit www.DavidLawrenceCenter.org.
Source: news release