Sunday, June 17, 2018
Health

Scott enlists Pinellas in effort to improve Florida's mental health system

Pinellas County will soon be part of a pilot program aimed at enhancing mental health services, Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday.

As part of the program, the state Department of Children and Families will conduct a "comprehensive review" of local, state and federally funded behavioral health services in Pinellas County. The department will also audit local mental health treatment facilities with an eye toward patient care, safety and security, technology, staffing levels and training.

State officials hope to use the information to help agencies better coordinate their care.

"For the first time in our state, we are trying to look at mental illness on the front end and ensure we find the best ways to support individuals with mental health needs in their communities before they are committed to the custody or supervision of the state," Scott said in a statement.

Clara Reynolds, CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, praised the initiative, saying it could help the state identify the real cost of care for individuals with mental illness and make recommendations to the Legislature.

"The end result could lead to more flexible and responsive funding for our community," she said.

The pilot program, which launched in July alongside an effort to improve safety at Florida's prisons, was initially limited to Broward County.

But Scott signed an executive order on Wednesday adding Pinellas and Alachua counties to the initiative.

Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said the two counties were selected because they represent "one urban and one rural area, each with substantial existing behavior health infrastructure, individuals in need of intensive services and strong partners committed to working on this collaborative effort with the state."

The National Alliance on Mental Health estimates about 660,000 Floridians live with serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder.

Mental health has been a prominent issue in Pinellas County since John Jonchuck Jr. dropped his 5-year-old daughter Phoebe from a bridge in January. The case raised questions about the lack of collaboration between police and child welfare services, and prompted the DCF to change its hotline protocol to require quicker response in mental health cases.

Scott said the state needed to do a better job of providing mental health services and called the system "too fragmented."

"When you look at our state budget, mental health care funding comes from multiple state agencies, local organizations and non-governmental entities, including $1 billion through (DCF) alone," Scott said. "All of these entities likely provide great services, but we have to better coordinate these organizations to ensure our entire taxpayer funded system is working together to help these patients get the care they need in their own communities, instead of institutions."

Scott is pushing for the development of a streamlined budget process, as well as a system that could track care across agencies.

Barbara Daire, CEO of the nonprofit Suncoast Center, which provides behavioral health services, said the executive order could provide "an opportunity for us to improve the system that we already have."

But she said what the system really needs is more funding.

"We're an underfunded system, and we do need more resources," she said. "If the governor is willing to work with us and DCF to get more funding and resources, that would be wonderful."

Scott's executive order did not address the possibility of additional funding.

Florida ranks 49th in per capita spending on mental health, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Comments
Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

The extensive government trial was intended to settle an age-old question about alcohol and diet: Does a daily cocktail or beer really protect against heart attacks and stroke?To find out, the National Institutes of Health gave scientists $100 millio...
Published: 06/16/18
More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults are taking prescription drugs, including hormones for contraception, blood pressure medications and medicines for heartburn, that carry a potential risk of depression, according to a study published in the Journal...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Courtney Bilyeu was running toward the murky water alongside a few military officers when it happened.She was an accountant for the U.S. Navy at the time. And on her way to take a swim with some coworkers in a California beach, she saw blood. The wat...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

The next time you head to the drugstore to buy sunscreen, don’t forget to pick up some sunglasses, too. That’s because both products work to protect your body from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.Wearing sunglasses for protection should not be re...
Published: 06/09/18
In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

ST. PETERSBURG — Kidney disease doesn’t discriminate.The crowd of more than 200 patients who gathered at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort range in age from teenagers to seniors. They are of different ethnicities and come from all over the...
Published: 06/08/18
Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

Mayo Clinic Q&A: melanomas of the eye; how long should you take a beta blocker?

YES, MELANOMAS CAN BEGIN IN THE EYEIs it true that melanoma can develop in the eyes? If so, how common is it? How is it treated?Melanomas can begin in the eye, a condition called intraocular melanoma. Treatment for intraocular melanomas used to prima...
Published: 06/08/18
For writer, using a heart rate monitor takes HIIT from frightening to fun

For writer, using a heart rate monitor takes HIIT from frightening to fun

High-intensity interval training is one of the biggest trends in fitness, but it has always seemed a bit scary to me. To a mere mortal with achy knees and an aging body, even the acronym — HIIT — sounded intimidating.But recently, I overcame my fears...
Published: 06/08/18
Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: ‘dragged’

Enjoy broccolini the Italian way: ‘dragged’

By KATIE WORKMANOne of the amazing things about Italian food is that the best dishes are often so completely, refreshingly simple. Like, four-ingredient simple. (We don’t count olive oil and salt. Or water. Or air.) I love broccoli. I can roast brocc...
Published: 06/08/18
What to get Dad? Try a Father’s Day gift that will do him good

What to get Dad? Try a Father’s Day gift that will do him good

Dads are notoriously tough to shop for. They’re not all that great at dropping hints, the way moms do, and if you ask what your dad might want or need for Father’s Day, he’ll likely say, "Nothing" or "Don’t spend your money" or "I just want to be wit...
Published: 06/08/18
Tampa council hears mixed messages on free-roaming roosters in Ybor City

Tampa council hears mixed messages on free-roaming roosters in Ybor City

TAMPA — Ybor City roosters and chickens can peck away in peace. For now.The Tampa City Council asked city attorneys and code enforcement officials Thursday to continue studying how to reduce the growing flock in the city’s historic heart, but no acti...
Published: 06/07/18