Mental Health and Guns

The Florida Department of Education told a legislative committee that one in five kids in a Florida school likely has a mental health issue.

"That would mean we would expect about half a million of our children and adolescence in Florida have mental health issues," said Dr. David Wheeler with Florida Department of Education.

The good news given to the Healthy Families Subcommittee is that there are plenty of warnings.

"There are seven years of warning before a child becomes a serious violent offender," said Department of Juvenile Justice Wansley Waters.

The warning signs are often ignored and even with years of acting out, experts say there isn’t enough money to meet the needs of 70 to 80% of the cases.

"I still get the same one million dollars to operate this program that I did thirteen years ago," said Mental Health Provider John Romano.

State Representative Linda Stewart believes diverting the tax already collected on guns and ammunition could be one source of funding. "We need to take those children when they're identified in the classroom and go ahead and try to put them into a program when they can be taken care of early."

Mental health experts say if the state were to fully embrace the national health care act it would cover a million people in Florida; freeing money for mental health.

"There are ways to save substantial dollars that would pay for everything you need to do. Because we are spending money in wrong places," said Florida Council for Community Mental Health member Bob Sharp.

House Speaker Will Weatherford says law makers will do something.

One of the less costly items being discussed is lengthening the time someone can be held under the Baker Act for involuntarily examinations. The act currently allows people feared to be a danger to themselves or others to be held three days.