The Current State of Mental Health in Florida
In 2023, more than 30% of Florida’s residents reported mental health symptoms. This statistic is on par with what the rest of the U.S. is facing–a health concern where four out of 10 adults struggle with mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression. In addition to common mental illnesses, behavioral health conditions like substance use disorders are also adding to the state’s mental health problem.
Fortunately, more Floridians have access to healthcare that includes mental health treatment than ever before. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance carriers are required to offer medical insurance that includes a minimum mandated level of mental health and behavioral healthcare. Behavioral healthcare includes inpatient and outpatient treatment for alcohol and drug addiction as well as related treatment plans like medical detox and dual diagnosis treatment.
Unfortunately, even though access to mental healthcare and behavioral healthcare has increased, many people are still hesitant to get treatment. Why? Many people fear the stigma associated with mental health disorders as well as mental health conditions like bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. People fear not only what others might think of them, but also that their condition will affect their employment and ability to obtain promotions. In short, people fear that their job will be in jeopardy if they use their insurance for mental health treatment.
Even so, treatments for mental health disorders have come a long way. They are highly effective and safe, according to rigorous medical testing, but they require a time commitment and payment. Many people are disinclined to enter a treatment program. They also fear the stigma or don’t want their work or life to be disrupted by treatment. Unfortunately, mental and behavioral health conditions can worsen quickly. Treatment is designed to reduce symptoms and promote a greater degree of stability and condition management.
At WhiteSands, we prioritize Florida’s mental health. We accept a broad range of insurance plans. We strive to help as many people access high-quality treatment as possible. If you need help reducing symptoms and managing your condition or you’ve yet to receive a diagnosis, you can rely on WhiteSands therapy programs for help.
The Importance of the New State Budget
Florida released its new state budget with a significant allocation of funding for behavioral health and mental health care. The budget offers more than $625 million, which constitutes the most funding behavioral health has been allocated by the state budget before. Overall, the Florida budget provides about $2.5 billion for mental health care and behavioral health that includes a broad range of item lines, including new suicide hotlines and expanded access to treatment. The increase is an historic one for its size, but also because there hasn’t been a funding increase in Florida for mental health in 20 years.
The significance allocation is immense because previously, Florida ranked 46th in the state for its access to mental healthcare. The new focus on mental healthcare comes at a time when the nation as a whole has come to recognize how essential such care is, and that it’s time to reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions, which are common, and do something to help the state’s citizens.
Now, more Floridians can benefit from the allocated funding that will include access to mental healthcare, research, education, help hotlines, and more. The budget increase highlights the importance of professional mental health care.
Allocation of Funds in the State Budget
Florida’s 2023 budget is $109.9 billion. Its allocation of $2.5 billion for mental health is historic. Not surprisingly, each state allocates budget funds differently. Florida’s largest spending lines have been education, elementary and secondary combined, and public welfare. While health and hospitals have commanded a substantial share of the budget, mental health did not figure largely into the financial equation. Other main budget lines include police, corrections, higher education, and highways and roads.
Within each main line item, the budget offers a more detailed breakdown of how the funding should be spent. The mental health budget is part of the Health and Human Services budget. This part of the state budget includes many line items, including support for women and children, cancer research, child welfare, seniors, people with disabilities, and behavioral health.
To allocate spending, legislators meet to discuss and debate the various line items. The mental health crisis in the U.S. has been complicated by the prescription drug epidemic and continued abuse of street drugs. Florida is not immune to this crisis. Also, the COVID epidemic led to an increase in the development of mental health symptoms among people throughout the U.S., including Florida. Consequently, legislators saw that the need for more mental health funding was great, and its position near the bottom for mental health funding may also have helped convince state legislators that more funding for mental and behavioral health was necessary.
How the Funds Will Be Used
The increase that Florida legislators are allotting to mental health doesn’t come without direction. Legislators have mapped out how they intend the funding to be spent. First, the allotment directs $625 million for a comprehensive range of behavioral health care. Additionally, the funds will support mental health treatment centers and a suicide and crisis hotline. The budget lists that $78,000 be used to sustain and expand bed capacity for state-operated mental health centers. The expansion will support patients who need critical mental health care and aims to reduce the wait list for hospitalization. $31 million is steered toward crisis intervention solutions.
In addition to expanded mental health services, the budget provides $385 for access to substance abuse treatment and recovery support. Other allotments include research, assessment, education, and prevention. Finally, a sum of $187 million is directed to support opioid addiction recovery.
Potential Impact of the New Budget on Mental Health Services
The budget increase for mental health spending in Florida has the potential to help thousands more Florida residents access mental and behavioral healthcare. The budget will substantially impact the lives of residents on Medicaid who need support in order to access mental health care and substance abuse treatment. The short-term impact is that more individuals will be able to access mental health treatment in Florida. The long-term effect is that more people will be able to better manage their mental health and behavioral health, which promotes improved well-being for individuals and their communities.
In addition, people who are enrolled in the Medicaid program will have immediate access to mental health care if they need it. Traditionally, low-income individuals struggled to access mental and behavioral healthcare. Now, the state recognizes the profound need for low-income individuals to get help managing their condition.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mental Health in Florida
What mental health programs does WhiteSands Treatment offer to residents in Florida?
WhiteSands offers a full range of mental health and addiction treatment Tampa services for clients. Our treatment programs include:
- Inpatient treatment
- Outpatient treatment
- Medical detox
- Aftercare services
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Dual diagnosis treatment
Our addiction treatment center offers treatments that are customized for each client. There are no cookie-cutter solutions to addiction recovery. Each person brings unique circumstances and experiences to their recovery journey. We help them navigate challenging times and promote relapse prevention.
Our treatment center also offers dual diagnosis treatment. This means that we are able to treat mental illness in addition to alcohol and drug use disorders. WhiteSands Treatment also offers bipolar disorder treatment Florida. About a third of people who have a substance addiction also have a mental health disorder.
How does WhiteSands Treatment align its services with the initiatives in Florida’s new mental health budget?
WhiteSands believes strongly in providing access to treatment. The state of Florida recognizes that accessing top-quality mental and behavioral health is essential. We understand how the recent prescription drug epidemic has impacted lives, families, and communities in the state as well as across the country. We’ve developed addiction treatment plans designed to address every aspect of addiction. Our plans include medical detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and aftercare services. Florida’s budget increase for mental health recognizes the deep need for treatment that gets to the core of substance abuse. The state’s push for improved mental health and behavioral health aligns with our treatment facility’s care goals.
How accessible are mental health services in Florida, especially for underprivileged communities?
In recent years, Florida has ranked near the bottom of the list (46th place) for the quality of its mental health treatment. This rank includes the state’s inaccessibility to quality mental health treatment. The budget increase is designed to improve accessibility and promote improved wellness across the state. Unfortunately, inaccessibility to quality mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment underscores Florida’s dire need for improvements in access to care.
Florida’s budget increase for mental and behavioral healthcare is aimed at underprivileged and historically underserved populations. More funding means more support in these areas. Without free or affordable mental healthcare and substance abuse treatment, many individuals from these communities would be unable to access the help they need to manage their addiction.
Improvements in access to mental healthcare and behavioral healthcare can make a difference in communities by helping to reduce crime and recidivism and improve the quality of life. Additionally, efforts to promote prevention can help reduce the drug addiction problem for these communities in the long run.
What are the long-term implications of Florida’s new mental health budget on private institutions like WhiteSands Treatment?
Florida’s budget increases bring the level of mental and behavioral healthcare up. This increase, while targeting the underserved, actually serves the entire state and all mental health and addiction treatment centers like this: it spotlights the problem of addiction and the need for treatment.
This historic increase calls attention to mental health disorders and substance use disorders; the message from the state is that this is a serious problem and everyone needs to address it. The publicity and funding help to reduce the stigma around these disorders. That’s good news for private treatment centers like WhiteSands because our experienced clinicians can’t help people unless they visit us to ask for help.
More Floridians will be persuaded to address their mental and behavioral healthcare problems because of the state’s encouragement through funding and improved access. Florida has acknowledged that drug addiction is not a problem that can be swept under the rug or allowed to fester. The more Florida residents we can help, the better for them, the better for their families, employers, and communities.
How does WhiteSands Treatment work towards the de-stigmatization of mental health in Florida?
The stigma associated with mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders is substantial. It’s why so many people try to keep their condition secret. Unfortunately, by not addressing a drug addiction or mental health problem, the condition is likely to worsen. Reducing the stigma at all levels of the state–from the legislative governors and employers to everyday people, those who suffer from these conditions are likely to be more inclined to seek help.
Stigma prevents people from managing their condition. It perpetuates the mental health and drug abuse crisis. More than 22 million Americans are living with a substance use disorder. About a third of these people also have a mental health disorder. Treatment not only reduces the problem and improves the quality of life; it also saves lives. Florida’s legislators have stepped up to make this historic funding improvement. More funding will reduce the stigma by demonstrating how common these conditions are and how necessary treatment is.
If you are living with a substance use disorder, contact WhiteSands for treatment. Our treatment center is a leading Florida addiction treatment rehab that also provides treatment for dual diagnosis. Reduced stigma means that more people will feel comfortable accessing the kind of quality substance abuse treatment that we offer. Visit us to learn more about how we can help you end your dependence on drugs or alcohol.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.