Are you a behavioral health provider operating in Florida? Here is a quick roundup of some of the mental health and substance use treatment news emerging from the Sunshine State.
Florida Receiving Funds in National Opioid Lawsuit
Florida will receive over $1.3 billion from pharmaceutical distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson, in a national opioid lawsuit agreement reached in late July. Opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson will pay Florida $300 million over nine years.
Florida communities may join in the agreement within 150 days. After that, they could start receiving some of the funding next year. Localities in Florida have been working with the state attorney general’s office to draft a memorandum of understanding for how the money will be distributed.
New Florida Law Focuses on Health Disparities
Florida Gov. Ron Desantis recently signed into law HB-183, which is intended to improve healthcare for minorities and directs $4.4 million to the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. Under the new law, the office will create county liaisons across Florida to improve local health issues.
Dr. Kyaien Conner, Associate Professor of mental health law and policy at the University of South Florida, helped create this new law. In her work in low-income, African-American areas, she says she saw lower rates of mental health treatment, driven partly by negative community attitudes toward seeking mental healthcare.
Self-Medicating a Problem for Opioid Epidemic
Mental health has gained more attention in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many people struggling with mental health needs have been increasingly self-medicating, especially with opioids. Jaime Bridges, a clinical social worker with Orlando Health, notes that the use of fentanyl has become a major problem, even outside of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This month, the Orange County Drug Free Office launched a new initiative in response to increased opioid-related overdose emergency calls. Volunteers are offering toolkits that include nasal naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan.
Charlotte County Introduces Interactive Health Dashboard
The Department of Health in Charlotte County (DOH-Charlotte) has launched an interactive dashboard that allows residents to access insightful health data. Designed by DOH-Charlotte and mySidewalk, the dashboard provides information about social and economic determinants of health. Public health experts hope this will help them better target specific community needs.
For example, dashboard data show that Charlotte County’s ratio of residents to mental health providers is 885 to 1, compared to a statewide rate of 622 to 1. This may indicate a need to bring more mental health resources into the county to help reduce that disparity.
Researchers Examine Whether Psychedelics Can Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Florida-based biotech company Psilera is working with University of South Florida (USF) researchers to research the possibility of using psychedelic derivatives to reduce alcohol consumption. The preclinical studies will conduct in-vivo screening of Psilera’s psychedelic-inspired new chemical entities. The study will also use the psilocybin compound mimic psilacetin, known as 4-AcO-DMT, which may reduce opioid and nicotine dependences.
Florida behavioral health organizations continue to address challenges related to substance misuse, underserved communities, and addressing social determinants of health. BestNotes’ EHR solutions are designed specifically for behavioral health practices, with customizable, easy to implement options for meeting these challenges.
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