Florida is facing numerous behavioral health struggles, including limited mental health resources, the effects of social distancing, and an ongoing opioid crisis. Here are some of the major behavioral health stories out of Florida in recent weeks.
1. Many Floridians Lack Behavioral Health Care Access
New research from Mental Health America shows that Florida is number 12 in the country when it comes to the prevalence of any mental illness. However, Florida ranked number 40 when it comes to access to care. More than 61 percent of Florida adults with a mental illness are unable to access treatment. This may be due to access to insurance, treatment costs, and other reasons. Nationwide, an average of 4.55 percent of adults have a seriously debilitating mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, in a year. According to Resources to Recover, around 3.8 percent of adults in Florida live with such a condition.
2. CDC Finds Minority Groups Get Less Mental Healthcare
A new report from the CDC about U.S. mental health before the COVID-19 pandemic found that non-Hispanic white adults were more likely to have received mental health treatment than any other race. About 10 percent fewer Black and Hispanic adults received mental health treatment, and Hispanic adults were the least likely to have received any mental health treatment. Black adults, however, were as likely as white adults to experience symptoms of depression. The Florida Department of Health’s 2017 State Health Assessment, the most recent such report, had similar findings.
3. Florida AG Addresses Opioid Misuse
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has issued statewide recommendations for addressing the ongoing opioid crisis in Florida. “There are signs that the pandemic may be contributing to an increase in opioid deaths, and that is even more reason why we cannot waiver in our fight to stop drug abuse,” Moody said. Recent efforts to reduce opioid misuse include a partnership between the Attorney General office and 211, a free, phone-based service offered by nonprofit and public agencies across the state.
4. Pinellas County Expands Mental Health Unit
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced plans to expand the county’s Sheriff’s Office unit that deals with mental health calls. The unit was originally formed in 2016, with two teams of a deputy and a social worker each. Gualtieri announced that the teams will be restructured and expanded to six deputies and six social workers, as well as a clinical supervisor. Four deputy-social worker pairs will respond to calls and assess a person’s situation. The other two teams will receive the cases and follow up to connect the person involved to services or resources.
5. Florida Education to Expand Telehealth Access
The Florida Department of Education plans to use $2 million from the federal CARES Act to increase access to mental telehealth services for schoolchildren. The money will be directed to 18 rural counties that have lower rates of internet connectivity and less access to mental health professionals.
Florida behavioral health and addiction treatment providers face numerous challenges in running their practice and meeting client needs. BestNotes’ EHR solutions are designed for behavioral health practices to help reduce frustration and keep your practice compliant and profitable. Contact us today to schedule a free demo.