Florida’s budget cuts hinder mental health treatment
Florida is known as the Sunshine State and the home to Disney World, the happiest place on Earth. But among the palm trees and the beaches, many residents are suffering from mental illness.
Take a minute to think of the four closest people in your life. According to the World Health Organization, one of those four loved ones will suffer from a mental illness. With the Department of Health receiving another budget cut in state funding this year, mental illness is not prioritized in Florida.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a nonprofit organization, almost two-thirds of Florida residents who suffer from a mental disease go without treatment.
As Florida continues to cut the budget for mental illness, several facilities designed to help people dealing with a mental disease are closing their doors, leaving more people untreated and suffering alone.
“It was all a big cycle,” substance abuse survivor Daniel Grossberg said. “You mess up and then you go to the hospital for a few days. You start to get a little hope back and then they say, ‘Good luck, you’re being discharged tomorrow.’ Then you are out on the streets again and it repeats. It kind of gets discouraging after a while.”
The brief amount of time patients have at these facilities isn’t long enough for them to recover. Many people who have lost everything due to their illnesses are left with no resources to start again.
“There are very few programs in Florida that provide a way for people to get back on track,” Grossberg said. “I worked for one organization that helped me a lot. You work for them and that pays for your room and board. After leaving though I had no money and no place to go.”
While the efforts of the state are lacking, several nonprofit organizations have stepped in to provide aid. NAMI is one service that provides help at no cost to people trying to recover.
“We all do a little piece of the work that needs to be done, but there are large gaps in which there are no services at all,” Helen Trainor, advocacy coordinator for NAMI, said.
Nonprofit organizations help give people a second chance at life, but they can’t support the overwhelming number of Florida residents that need treatment.
“When the state cannot provide for these patients anymore they are sent home,” Trainor said.
“If they do not have a home, well, they return to living under the bridge. It’s not a good picture.”
Trainor also mentioned that a majority of the people who are homeless suffer from a mental disease, leaving them with no way to pay for the help they desperately need.
“If you can’t get services because you can’t afford them, you don’t get service,” Trainor said.
Florida has the third-largest homeless population in America. While there are few services
provided by the state to solve this crisis, there’s much less being done for anyone with a mental illness.
Nonprofit organizations help as much as they can by using donated funds. However, if the state of Florida doesn’t prioritize mental health, many more residents will suffer from the state's negligence.
By Kristen Franz