Florida’s Ailing Mental Health System

by Jackie Rosen As the Executive Director of the Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 organization I am appalled that our, state is 49th in mental health care.  As a member of the Florida Suicide Prevention Coordinating Council a state council created by a legislative bill, I am appalled that our office was moved from an office in the governor’s office to an office in DCF and all funding and personnel were eliminate.  I am appalled as resident of a state that has suicide as the 9th cause of death in our state and our state has eliminated so much funding for suicide prevention.  Last year, the Legislature slashed mental health funding, through a combination of budget cuts and contract management changes, by $24 million. Florida already had an underfunded mental health care system. How can we prevent suicide and if there is no mental health care available for 66% of our adult population and 73% of our child population?   The editorial below found in the Ledger.com published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 explains why our:

Mental Health in Florida: An Ailing System

The system is a sorely deficient, underfunded and an overwhelmed network that delivers more than should be expected. Those who come in contact with it most often — mental health, health-care and law-enforcement professionals — will confirm that Florida's mental health system is woefully inadequate to meet the state's needs. Here are some facts: Florida ranks 49th in the nation in per-capita for mental health funding spending only $39 per resident. It is an improvement over last year when it ranked 50th, but still way behind the national average of $129 per capita. Adjusted for inflation, Florida now spends less per person on mental health than it did in the 1950s. The Florida Department of Children & Families estimates that the state's mental health programs meet just 34 percent of adult needs and 27 percent of children's needs. Half of all mental health dollars in our state are spent on institutional care, meaning that too many people who have relatively manageable mental illness cannot be served because those with the worst conditions are consuming most of the money.

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