Kudos to the Florida Association of Counties. As founder of the first mental-health court in the United States nearly 20 years ago, I have learned that the trend known as the “criminalization” of people with mental illnesses is based upon historic failures of governmental policies to develop adequate community-based systems of mental healthcare.
This past year, the National Association of Counties rolled out its Step Up Initiative, a national call to action adopted by Broward County to reduce incarceration and prioritize mental-health services on a community level.
This entails the need to expand access to community care, work to overcome social stigma and foster prevention and crisis services.
In related legislation, Congress passed the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which is poised to deliver game-changing transformation in mental healthcare to those participating states.
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Unfortunately, Florida recently chose not to apply for an Excellence in Mental Health award funding.
I believe that expanding access to community-based treatment and services is the model of excellence for mental-health reform that all Floridians deserve.
Ginger Lerner-Wren, judge, Fort Lauderdale