SARASOTA, Fla. – The pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s mental health, dramatically increasing cases of anxiety, depression, addiction, and suicidal thoughts. Just this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency, with E.R. visits for mental health emergencies among kids on the rise.
Treatment in all age groups is needed now more than ever.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Terry Cassidy, executive director of Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Behavioral Health Services. “Just an unbelievable number of people in need.”
To answer that call for help, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is planning to create a place of refuge with a brand new, state-of-the-art mental health facility. They just got a $10 million donation from Target CEO Brian Cornell and his wife, Martha.
“It’s going to be a one-stop-shop,” said Cassidy. “It is going to have inpatient, it’s going to have outpatient, it’s going to have day treatment programs.”
Rendering of Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s new mental health wing
“This building is incorporating everything that we’ve learned as a country, as a, as a society, and how to treat behavioral health,” said David Verinder, CEO and president of Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. “New services, new aesthetics, new ways to treat patients, and we think that it’s going to have an incredible result.”
Construction on the $65 million Cornell Family Behavioral Health Pavilion will begin next year, replacing Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s aging, crowded facility. Contrary to the older, institutional-style building, the pavilion will serve as a bright, welcoming place for those fighting through their darkest days.
“It’s going to have lots of natural light,” Cassidy said. “It will have single rooms for the patients. It will have colors that really promote recovery.”
The three-story, 95,000 square foot facility will have more than 80 beds with units dedicated to children and adolescents, adults, geriatric patients, and acute care. They enlisted the help of a behavioral health design expert to create a serene, calming environment.
“As soon as they see the light, the color, the warmth of the building, the high ceilings, it’s going to inspire hope, it’s going to inspire – I’m in a good place,” Cassidy said.
“I’m hopeful this state-of-the-art project will help reduce that stigma, improve care and have a lasting impact on thousands and thousands of families for years to come,” said Cornell.
It isn’t always easy to ask for help and take the first step and ask for help. “We look at this as a first step in a very long journey,” Verinder said.
The goal is to create a space people want to come to as many times as they need.
“Things will get better. You will feel better. Just call us,” Cassidy said.
Sarasota Memorial’s existing behavioral health facility will remain open during construction. The new facility is expected to open in 2023.