Mental Health Services Suffering

Mental health services in Florida have been cut by 34 million dollars over the last three years. The Department of Children and Families was asked point blank what it was doing to prevent a Sandy Hook in Florida.

"I think the teachers know that these kids have problems. Then what?" said Sen. Eleanor Sobel.

State Senators had plenty of questions about mental health and school safety but were given few answers.

"I mean the prevention dollars we spend is practically zero," said DCF Assistant Secretary Rob Siedlecki.

The Florida Council for Community Mental Health says budget cuts have made Florida one of the worst places in the country for service.

"Ranks 49th per capita funding in the country of the fifty-one states and the District of Columbia," said John Bryant with the Florida Council for Community Mental Health.

Committee member Nancy Detert is pushing guidance counselors over armed guards in every school. "If we had more guidance counselors we would need fewer grief counselor," said Detert.

When asked is that over police officers with weapons in the class Detert responded "Right".

Guns weren't on anyone's agenda until Sandy Hook and there is still lack of specifics and because of Sandy Hook, Governor Rick Scott now says everything is on the table.

"When we have tragedies like what happened up in Sandy Hook, we need to look at these things. If there are additional things we ought to do I want to look at those and work with the Legislature to get those done," said Governor Scott.

Revenues are improving in Florida, but increased mental health services or guidance counselors will find the competition for new money tough.

Florida now has an average of one guidance counselor for every 1,000 students, and even then, counselors are often diverted to lunch room or other non counseling duties.


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