Mental health advocates unhappy with federal spending

By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
August 10, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- The legislature has been taking heat for cutting mental health spending after promising a greater commitment to fight the opioid crisis in the state.

The state of Florida received $27 million in federal funding to help fight the opioid crisis, while money for mental health services dropped by $20 million.

$17.7 million of the federal funding is dedicated to medication-based treatment plans, such as methadone.

But, mental health advocates say the federal money can be used to provide mental health services to those being treated for opiod addiction.

“It includes an assessment of the persons condition and then a diagnosis and the actual medication," said Jane Johnson of the Florida Council for Community and Mental Health. "But then [also includes] the wrap around services like counseling and therapy, peer support and on going counseling.”

Mental health advocates also say medication treatment options have proven to be more effective than others.

The question remains - how long will the federal funds provide mental health services tot hose addicted to opiates?

Without federal aid and a lack of funding for state mental health services, many could be left without long-term support.

Mental health advocates say it's imperative the legislature address the lack of mental health funding if the ever hope to tackle the underlying causes of addiction.

One of the biggest cuts to mental health services was Central Receiving Facility funding, which provides treatment for those suffering from mental health issues who are arrested by police. Often times, those brought in are suffering from addiction.