May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Spectrum News is highlighting a problem that Central Floridians are dealing with. According to national data, rural areas have a chronic shortage of mental health resources, a situation that one Lake County therapist is working to address.
Music can elicit a wide range of feelings in people. It’s more than simply notes on a keyboard for Sandi Burchfield, owner of Family Life Counseling Center; it’s a gateway to the human heart. “Music is something that flows into your ears and you have no control over how it influences your emotions,” says the author “she stated, “It’s a pretty secure approach to express your feelings.” Burchfield believes that connecting with one’s emotions is more vital than ever, especially in rural communities like Lake County.
According to the National Library of Medicine, 60 percent of rural Americans lack basic mental health resources. “There has always been a demand since there aren’t a lot of professionals in this area,” Burchfield explained. “It’s been difficult for them to commute out of the city and into the country.”Burchfield is well-versed in the area, having been born in Eustis and raised in Tavares. She began working as a case manager for the Florida Department of Children and Families after graduation.
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She perceived a greater need in her community there. “Many traumatized children were not receiving mental health treatment,” says the author “she stated, “I was becoming upset and frustrated, but I was also feeling a strong desire to say, ‘We need more here,’ especially because this was my hometown.”As a result, she became the much-needed change. She returned to school for a master’s degree and went on to work as a family and marriage counselor.
“I’ve watched the demand here surge, “According to Burchfield. “We now have a waitlist of at least three months.” “People who want mental health therapy and assistance may only wait so long before the problems become a crisis,” she says “she went on. “If we don’t get help sooner rather than later, those minor concerns will morph into complex problems that will escalate into a catastrophe, which will now affect the entire community through suicide and homicide.”
She hopes that additional counseling clinics open in Lake County, making it more inexpensive for residents to seek treatment. Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s free helpline at 1-800-662-HELP if you or a loved one needs assistance.
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