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Mental Health

The QOL Council has broken down the general mental health issues in Florida to better address the area that needs closer attention or that has low priority elsewhere.

We estimate only 20% of Florida's mental health need is met through the publicly funded behavioral healthcare system. This is due, of course, to lack of adequate funding.

  • 80% of children who need mental health services in Florida receive treatment from DCF providers.
  • Approximately 2% of Florida’s population, or 335,000 individuals, spend time in jail or prison over the course of one year. Of these persons, 65% have mental and/or addictive disorder.
  • The annual suicide rate in Florida (14.3 per 100,000 persons) is higher than average. In 1997, there were 2,098 recorded suicides in Florida.
  • Prevention services (education) are currently a low priority in mental health, although it is a priority in substance abuse. Currently, the traditional mental health system emphasizes deep end services and crisis interventions.
  • Education is a critical part of the solution for mental and addictive disorders as they are still stigmatized to a great extent.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse in the Florida Criminal Justice System

The fact that many persons with mental illnesses and/or substance abuse problems end up in jail or prison can be seen as an indicator of changes needed within the traditional system, in particular with respect to identifying and treating MHSA problems.

Recommendations from the Florida Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse

  • Increase efficiency and effectiveness
  • Recognize and treat MHSA problems in the natural settings where they occur
  • Decrease the need for more intensive and expensive services
  • Promote independence and recovery for persons with MHSA disorders
  • Use preventative interventions to reduce the rate of illness in the general population

Actions for Mental Health

  • Continue to build a science base
  • Overcome stigma
  • Improve public awareness of effective treatment
  • Ensure the supply of mental health services and providers
  • Ensure delivery of state-of-the-art treatments
  • Tailor treatment to age, gender, race, and culture
  • Facilitate entry into treatment
  • Reduce financial barriers
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