Advocates launch social media campaign to boost mental health funding
The Tampa Bay Times' Leonora LaPeter Anton writes about a budding campaign to increase state funding for mental health programs as the state Legislature begins its regular session today:
Several mental health advocacy organizations have launched a campaign to pressure state lawmakers to restore cuts to Florida's mental health programs, including the $100 million from state mental hospitals that was the focus of investigation this year by the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
By Tuesday, the first day of Florida's legislative session, more than 2,000 people had emailed a form letter to Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and other lawmakers seeking action. Three electronic billboards appeared in Tallahassee, demanding legislators' help and pointing out the state's rank of 49th in mental health funding,
The group's web page allows users to generate a letter sent directly to lawmakers. Organizers also created the Twitter hashtag #ElectHealthFL and used it to share information on how Florida compares to other states. One graphic noted that Florida spends $37.28 per capita on mental health compared with $338.24 per person in Maine and $114.95 in Mississippi.
"We were just frustrated," said Candice Crawford, president and CEO of Mental Health Association of Central Florida, which organized the effort. "If you take the funding that has been reduced at the state hospitals and the funding that has been reduced for everybody else, we are in terrible shape in Florida."
The fledgling campaign comes just as Gov. Rick Scott began airing television ads touting his plan to cut $1 billion in taxes, including all corporate income taxes charged to manufacturers and retail companies.