CONTACT: Katrina Gay · (352) 400-1166
March 18, 2004, Tallahassee, Florida -- NAMI Florida, with national and state partners, released The State of the Mental Health Services in Florida in the capital today, as part of a national campaign to build support for recovery.
Nearly a million of Florida’s 17 million residents live with a severe mental illness, yet most do not receive treatment.
"Every day, I see evidence in my courtroom of our neglect of people with mental illness—people who need housing, medication, and employment, not incarceration," said Florida judge Ginger Lerner-Wren, a member of President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health.
Advocates and experts will present report findings to legislators and other policymakers on the scope of the mental health crisis in Florida, and recommend solutions that are evidence-based, cost-effective and safe.
The report chronicles a history of ineffective, insufficient mental health services. Even when services exist, only a small percentage of eligible participants receive them.
Despite Florida’s concern over the increasing cost of medication, the state also is in only the early stages of medication education for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which can improve treatment outcomes and save money.
The report serves to launch the Campaign for the Mind of America in Florida, promoting smart choices with the broadest benefits—and greater awareness of the cost of untreated mental illness.
Nationwide, untreated mental illness costs the nation more than $100 billion annually from lost productivity and diverted resources. The Campaign is creating unique partnerships among different sectors on the front lines that deal with the crisis—law enforcement, education, health care, and businesses.
"While cutting mental health services and treatments may result in short term budget savings, the long term impact of untreated mental disorders is much greater," said Ken Duckworth, M.D., NAMI’s national medical director and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
"Community leaders know the impact," said Duckworth. "We all stand together."
Download The State of the Mental Health Services in Florida report (PDF, 247k, opens new window)
Find out more about Campaign for the Mind of America activity in Florida: www.nami.org/cmoaFL