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SalusCare partners with FISH of Sanibel-Captiva to provide Hurricane Ian mental health help

Laura Guarino, Licensed Clinician and United Way House Liaison for SalusCare, with tools to help resilience

SalusCare, the largest nonprofit mental health and substance abuse treatment agency in Southwest Florida, has partnered with FISH of Sanibel-Captiva – a nonprofit dedicated to providing food, island-based education, social and senior services, and help to the island communities – to provide free weekly group therapy sessions focusing on hurricane-related topics, including mental health services to those who have been displaced on the islands, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma and loss.

Laura Guarino, MA, LMHC, CBHCMS of SalusCare, leads the group from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays, followed by one-on-one sessions until 2 p.m. at St. Michael & All Angels Church’s Gathering Place, 2304 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. SalusCare partner Project H.O.P.E. is also available from 1 to 3 p.m. Mondays at FISH, 2422 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, offering open discussions on post-storm trauma, including mental exhaustion, decision making, financial fears and more.

“We realize many storm survivors are struggling with emotional stress, trauma and anxiety since Ian, so we formed important partnerships to address these issues,” says Maria Espinoza, executive director of FISH. “When Hurricane Idalia recently threatened our area, it became abundantly clear how necessary mental health resources are as they relate to hurricane survivors.”

For SalusCare, it is one of many valuable collaborations throughout the community to help meet the mental and behavioral health needs of Southwest Florida.

“Many of the long-term effects of the hurricane are problems that we and our partner agencies address long after storms have passed,” says Stacey Cook, CEO of SalusCare. “Storm-related stress can damage tenuous relationships and aggravate mental health issues. It is our role to help rebuild the community’s resilience to support recovery.”

For details about FISH’s hurricane recovery and other services, contact Espinoza at 239-472-4775 or visit fishofsancap.org.  To learn about SalusCare’s mental and behavioral health programs, visit saluscareflorida.org.

About SalusCare

SalusCare is a Fort Myers-based, not-for-profit mental health and substance abuse service provider incorporated in 2013 after the merger of Lee Mental Health Center and Southwest Florida Addiction Services (SWFAS) to ultimately improve care for children and adults by utilizing one seamless system of care. “Salus” means health, prosperity and safety, reflecting the focus of the organization. SalusCare has six locations with more than 350 employees throughout Southwest Florida, bringing hope and recovery to nearly 16,000 adults and children each year. All substance abuse programs and most mental health services are accredited by CARF International, an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services. For information, visit saluscareflorida.org or call 239-275-3222.

About FISH

FISH of Sanibel-Captiva has been a “neighbors helping neighbors” organization on Sanibel and Captiva for over 40 years. As a social service organization, FISH has been ground zero, in recent years, from natural and environmental crises to the impacts of COVID and now, for catastrophic Hurricane Ian. FISH offers something for everyone—if there is not a service in place for unmet needs of community members, they work to meet it through their expansive regional network. In addition to their Long-Term Recovery program, FISH continues to offer programs representing their four major pillars – Food, Island Based Education, Social and Senior Services, and Helping Hands. Information about FISH is available online at fishofsancap.org, Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter). For details about hurricane recovery and other services, contact Maria Espinoza, FISH Executive Director, at (239) 472-4775.

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