By Sharon Aron Baron
Representative Christine Hunschofsky D-Parkland and Senator Lauren Book D-Plantation have filed HB 1447/SB 1888, creating a mental health commission to recommend improvements to mental health services in Florida.
The commission will evaluate Florida’s broken mental health assessment and delivery system and making much-needed recommendations.
The bills would implement the recommendations from the Third Interim Report of the 20th Statewide Grand Jury, submitted December 10, 2020, regarding the state’s mental health system.
The Grand Jury’s report highlighted deficiencies in funding, leadership, and services related to mental health care throughout Florida and called on legislators, the Governor, and others who make up what they called a patchwork system of mental health service providers to investigate and resolve critical deficiencies in our mental health system.
After February 14, 2018, the Grand Jury was selected at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“We can no longer hide our heads in the sand. Now is the time to recognize that this makeshift system with numerous providers, conflicting laws, and hodge-podge policies need to be re-evaluated at the highest level,” said Rep. Hunschofsky.
She added the bill seeks to do just that by way of a working commission that will give them a complete and honest evaluation of the system and provide them guidance for fixing what’s broken and enhancing what works.
“In the wake of the Parkland shootings, as mayor, I saw first-hand how our labyrinthian system of providing mental health services hindered healing for too many families – I vowed then to fix that, and this bill is a badly needed first step in doing that,” Hunschofsky said.
The deficiencies included less funding per capita in Florida than any other state for mental health care, service-related issues resulting from funding deficiencies, a lack of interagency cooperation, and leadership issues related to statewide oversight of the many mental health providers and programs.
“We have created a Rube Goldberg system of providing mental health services in Florida, and while much of it works well for many Floridians, based on the Grand Jury findings, we know there are places we can dramatically improve services,” said Sen. Book.
“Creating a task force of experts will be an important and necessary first step in helping us chart a path forward.”
The 96th District includes Parkland, Coconut Creek, and parts of Margate and Coral Springs.
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- Sharon Aron Baron is a Parkland resident and editor of Talk Media. She has been covering Parkland news since 2012. Parkland Talk was created to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Parkland.
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