Legislative Priorities

2014 Legislative Priorities | 8th Annual Behavioral Health Day (Flyer)

Maintain Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment Funding

It is critical that mental health and substance abuse treatment services vital to our communities’ health and public safety be preserved.  Florida currently ranks 50th in per capita publicly funded mental health care and 35th in per capita publicly financed substance abuse care.  Meanwhile, the number of Floridians with mental illnesses who are in prison has increased 36% in the past five years.

Maintain the Criminal Justice Mental Health and Substance Abuse Reinvestment Grant Program

More than 32 counties across the state have used these grant funds to create innovative services that shift care of offenders with mental illnesses and/or co-occurring substance use disorders from the most expensive deep-end treatment settings to community-based programs. State funds of $3 million per year matched with local dollars have produced savings in emergency room costs, law enforcement and jail services and decreased hospital stays, while also reducing re-arrest rates and helping individuals remain in recovery.

Community-based substance abuse and mental health programs increase public safety, improve lives and save money

In times of fiscal crisis, Partners in Crisis believes it is imperative for policymakers to examine where our tax dollars are spent and the return on investment of those dollars.

Countless studies have shown that public safety can best be served by appropriately diverting offenders who have mental illnesses or substance use disorders and who have not committed violent crimes into programs that help them manage and stabilize their illnesses and remain in recovery. In Florida, the combined efforts of law enforcement officials, the court system and community-based mental health and substance abuse providers is effectively reducing recidivism rates and cutting costs.

As an example, the cost for a community-based crisis stabilization bed is $292 per day while care in an inpatient psychiatric forensic facility is more than $700 per day. In addition, the average annual cost of substance abuse treatment is $2,400 while the average prison cost for a drug offender is $52,117. After 36 months, 93% of offenders who completed community drug treatment do not re-offend.  A one percent change equals $8 million over three years.

Cost efficiencies and success rates such as these can be found throughout Florida thanks to the collaborative efforts of substance abuse and mental health treatment providers, drug courts, mental health courts and corrections and law enforcement officers working in partnership with the Department of Corrections and the Department of Children and Families.

We know from experience that cuts to community-based programs can be felt almost immediately through increases in domestic violence and child abuse and sharp increases in our court, jail, emergency room and social service systems.

Even during plentiful economic times, funding for Florida's mental health and substance abuse programs ranked near the bottom when compared to spending in other states. Maintaining current funding levels for these programs is vital to public safety and the well-being of thousands of Florida families.