Mental Health Navigator Program

Administered and supervised by Golisano Children’s Hospital, the Kids’ Minds Matter Mental Health Navigator program was established to provide guidance and resources for families and children facing mental and behavioral health challenges. This is specialized program specifically for the most challenged children and families. The goal is to improve the educational outcomes and the functioning of these children and families.

Children who are struggling in school, the home, or the community who may benefit from the Navigator program are referred by the school staff with concern about a child’s mental and behavioral health. Generally, children who are referred to the program are struggling in multiple areas – behavior, attendance and grades – or some combination of these. They have not responded to typical school-based interventions for resolving these issues.

The approach includes “Wrap-around Services,” a team approach that can include connecting parents and children to mental health services, providing transportation, helping complete applications for housing, financial assistance, or school enrollment, helping families who are food insecure access local food resources, anything that helps increase the family’s access to the services and resources necessary for helping the child and family function in a healthy way. The wrap around approach also addresses the needs of the whole family not just the identified child.

Meet the Navigators

Jodi, Mental Health Navigator

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Brittany, Mental Health Navigator

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Chantel, Mental Health Navigator

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Peggy, Mental Health Navigator

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Mental Health Navigators are uniquely suited to advocate for families because they all have had their own experiences dealing with mental health issues with one of their own family members. They know what families are dealing with in trying to connect with resources and advocate for their children. Navigators come alongside the families and help determine what is needed for the family to be able to help their child.

Mental Health Navigators are also passionate about helping families and children. The goal is to empower families to navigate on their own, with the goal of improved child functioning, school performance, and self-sufficiency.

You Can Help Families Navigate, Too

The philanthropy-supported Mental Health Navigator program has grown and has served more than 120 children and their families since the pilot program was started in 2020.

Children in the program have:

Happy young family sitting on couch and talking with family counselor. Smiling parents with adopted children discussing with counselor. Multiethnic family meeting a financial agent.

Mental Health Navigators are important because a community where children do well in school has less unemployment, reduced dependence on public assistance programs and greater tax revenue. Education also plays a key role in the reduction of crime, improved public health, and greater political and civic engagement.

In addition, Navigators help stabilize families by reducing obstacles to accessing care including basic needs such as food, toiletries and clothes as well as help with rent, car repairs and phone bills. Navigator empower families to overcome barriers and get the help they need.

Ideally, every school in Lee and Collier County will have a Mental Health Navigator, but expansion of the program is limited by financial support.