Kids’ Minds Matter announces guest speaker lineup for virtual mental health series ahead of Mental Health Awareness Month

Kids’ Minds Matter has announced the guest speaker lineup for the virtual series “Mental Health Mondays” during Mental Health Awareness Month. Among the five segments that will be hosted in May will be a Spanish-language session on May 18, as well as representatives from Lee Health, Golisano Children’s Hospital and the School District of Lee County. Teenagers will also have the opportunity to hear from one of their peers on May 11.

The series connects Lee Health partners and Southwest Florida mental health advocates with the region’s families to share expert advice, resources, as well as at-home activities for kids that aid in mental health and wellness. The segments, which are less than an hour, feature psychologists, therapists, physicians, child advocates as well as other art, mind and body professionals to help caregivers with their child’s mental health.

During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, topics for the weekly series include:

  • May 4, 6 p.m.: Dr. Jose Colon, adult and pediatric sleep medicine specialist at Lee Health, “Kids in the Kitchen: The Benefits of Healthy Cooking on Physical and Mental Health”
  • May 11, 10 a.m.: Lori Brooks, director of school counseling & mental health services, and Sherry Wenzel, coordinator of mental health services for the School District of Lee County, “Education During COVID-19: Supporting Children Through Distance Learning”
  • May 11, 6 p.m.: Carly McGovern, student and mental health advocate, “The New Normal: Supporting Teens in a Time That is All but Normal”
  • May 18, 10 a.m.: Lorena Rodriguez, coordinadora del programa de defense del nino a Golisano Children’s Hospital, “Disciplina digna; ayudar a los padres a mantener relaciones saludables y cambiar comportamientos inapropiados con su hijos”
  • May 18, 6 p.m.: Richard Keelan, child advocacy supervisor at Golisano Children’s Hospital, “Dignified Discipline: Helping Parents Maintain Healthy Relationships and Change Inappropriate Behaviors with Their Children”
  • May 26: Courtney Whitt, Ph.D., director of behavioral health at Healthcare Network, segment details to be shared at a later date on Kids’ Minds Matter Facebook events

Streamed live every Monday from the Kids’ Minds Matter Facebook channel, experts will speak on a different aspect of mental health and answer questions from viewers. Community advocates, partners and viewers are encouraged to create “watch parties” to join the experience and share the live stream with friends and family.

Dr. Paul Simeone, vice president and medical director of behavioral health at Lee Health, kicked off the weekly series on April 6 with important tips for caregivers to help children cope with the impact of COVID-19.

“The goal of Kids’ Minds Matter is to raise awareness about the need for pediatric mental and behavioral health care services and to raise the funds required to make these services available in the region,” said Dr. Simeone. “During the pandemic, the impact on mental health is especially hard for children, who have lost structure and routine in their lives in the midst of fear. It’s our goal to continue to make mental and behavioral health care services accessible during this unprecedented time while continuing to raise awareness.”

An estimated 46,000 Southwest Florida children are impacted by mental and behavioral health disorders like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, psychosis, substance abuse, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. As part of the region’s strategic solution to the children’s mental and behavioral health epidemic in Southwest Florida, Kids’ Minds Matter is dedicated to fostering partnerships that support existing services, identifying and filling gaps in the continuum of care, and innovating new treatments.

Philanthropic support for Kids’ Minds Matter has allowed Lee Health and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida to: implement a tiered model of care that clinically aligns community, inpatient and outpatient care; hire additional psychiatrists, child advocates and other mental health professionals; offer Mental Health First Aid training to local pediatricians, emergency service providers and others who work directly with children; renovate an outpatient center in Fort Myers where a child’s needs can be addressed in a therapeutic setting; and launch a first-of-its-kind Pediatric Digital Cognitive Behavioral Health diagnostic and treatment protocols interlaced with Tele-Psychology support to treat anxiety, depression and trauma. Most recently, Kids’ Minds Matter introduced mental health care navigators into Lee and Collier County schools who will help families find resources and care to address their child’s mental healthcare needs.

About Kids’ Minds Matter 

Founded in 2016, Kids’ Minds Matter is a unified movement in Southwest Florida dedicated to advancing pediatric mental and behavioral health services. By developing clinical pathways to screen and treat patients, enhancing public awareness through education, and lobbying for systemic change and sustainable funding, Kids’ Minds Matter aims to align mental health providers, local agencies, the judicial system, law enforcement, schools and faith-based organizations. Kids’ Minds Matter is managed through the Lee Health Foundation. Please visit or call 239-214-0921 for more information.

About Golisano Children’s Hospital 

Established in 1994, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida has been named a “Top Hospital” three consecutive years by The Leapfrog Group. It is the only recognized children’s hospital between Tampa and Miami. Lee Health opened the new 134-bed Golisano Children’s Hospital in May 2017, relocating the children’s hospital from the adjacent HealthPark Medical Center. It includes comprehensive pediatric services including a 24-hour pediatric emergency department, hematology-oncology unit, milk lab, Regional Perinatal Intensive Care Center, and Level II and Level III NICU with 70 private rooms. Golisano Children’s Hospital is proud to have been named Soliant’s 2018 Most Beautiful Hospital in the U.S., a recognition determined by popular vote. For more information, visit