Responding to the Post-Pandemic Mental Health and Substance Use Crisis

Hazelden Betty Ford CEO Dr. Joseph Lee responds to the post-pandemic mental health and substance use crisis
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NAPLES, Fla. (March 24, 2022) – On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic are a host of other national and global challenges including an addiction crisis that has already led to record drug overdoses and an alarming increase in alcohol-related deaths—demanding our immediate and focused attention. That's part of the message Joseph Lee, MD, president and CEO of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, will deliver on Thursday, April 14, when he speaks at NCH Healthcare System's Downtown Naples Hospital.

"As the pandemic lifts, more people who have delayed care for years are in need of services for substance use and mental health conditions, and that's a reality that families, as well as our communities and health systems, need to confront now," said Dr. Lee, whose talk is open to the public and will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the hospital's Telford Auditorium.

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, which has a treatment center across the street from the NCH Downtown Naples Hospital, is the nation's leading nonprofit system of addiction treatment, mental health care, recovery resources and related prevention and education services.

Paul Hiltz, president and CEO of NCH Healthcare System, will kick off the April 14 event with welcoming remarks. Ahmed Eid, director of Hazelden Betty Ford in Naples, will then introduce Dr. Lee, who lives in Minnesota, where Hazelden Betty Ford's national system is headquartered.

"We're excited to have Dr. Lee visit and grateful to collaborate with our neighbors at NCH on this event," said Eid. "Both of our organizations are committed to the health and wellbeing of people living in Southwest Florida. Together, we hope to create more awareness about the urgency of the addiction and mental health crisis we're all facing in the wake of the pandemic, and the help that is available."

"NCH was just named a top 100 hospital in the nation by Healthgrades and received an 'A' grade from the Leapfrog Group," said Hiltz. "Those accolades along with our commitment to partner with community organizations whose mission runs parallel with our own, are proof of our commitment to maintaining the health and wellbeing of our community." There is no cost to attend the event.

About NCH Healthcare System

The NCH Healthcare System is a not-for-profit, multi-facility healthcare system located in Naples, Florida, and is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. The System is more than just two hospitals (referred to as the NCH Baker Hospital and NCH North Naples Hospital) with a total of 713 beds. NCH is an alliance of 775 physicians and medical facilities in dozens of locations throughout Collier County and southwest Florida that offers nationally recognized, quality health care to our community. Our mission is to help everyone live a longer, happier, healthier life.  For more information, visit

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health care for adults and youth, the Foundation has treatment centers and telehealth services nationwide as well as a network of collaborators throughout health care. Through charitable support and a commitment to innovation, the Foundation is able to continually enhance care, research, programs and services, and help more people. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its services and throughout the organization, which also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction.