The Lee County School Board has unanimously approved a proposal to integrate mental health navigators into two Lee County schools.

Through a collaboration with Lee Health, this pilot program will help children and families at Ray V. Pottorf and Colonial Elementary Schools who are struggling with mental and behavioral health issues.

The salaries for the two navigators are funded by Lee Health’s Kids’ Minds Matter initiative and Suncoast Credit Union. The goal of the program is to intervene as early as possible to help students receive the care they need as their young minds are rapidly developing.

Students suffering with mental and behavioral health conditions often struggle to find the resources they need, not only for the lack of availability due to difficulties getting connected with the right doctors, therapists, and counselors. A mental health navigator bridges that gap, and helps families find the right treatments, programs and support to address their children’s mental health needs.

To become a mental health navigator in the program, someone must have extensive experience working with a family member of their own who has suffered from mental or behavioral health conditions.