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Has Florida a Mental Health Epidemic?

mental health epidemic florida

Not only Florida has announced a mental health epidemic. “In Lee County visits to Golisano’s pediatric behavioral health facility have nearly tripled from 4,500 in 2018 to more than 12,000 in 2020. Mental health statistics for Florida are at least concerning. But the problem is that also the system and community have improved access, the “wait time to see a behavioral health professional at Golisano is about eight months.

Dr. Larry Antonucci, Lee Health president and CEO, called it a mental health epidemic that had “reached a crisis point for our children, their families, our providers, and anyone who works with youth.” 

Florida Mental Health Epidemic Statistic 1: 36% Increase in Students Needing Mental Health Service During Covid

Another alarming fact comes from the Lee county school district. The district has seen a 36% increase in students needing mental health services from August to March. 

Unfortunately Lee County already reported its limited mental healthcare access for Teenagers in 2018:

65.8% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 with a Major Depressive Episode (MDE) did not receive treatment. At the same time major depressive episodes (MDE) among 12- to 17-year-olds increased from 8.1% in 2011 to 11.9% in 2014. This is a very serious sign for a mental health epidemic.

Mental Health Statistic Florida 2: Rise in Adult Depression Due To Covid Pandemic

But Florida sees a similar rise in adults. According to a recent report anxiety and depression have gone up 12.7% since the pandemic began.

Florida Mental Health Epidemic Statistic 3: Florida ranks last among states in per-person spending for mental health services

Read our post on Positive Health Intentions.

According to the newspress in 2019 “The state ranks last among states in per-person spending for mental health services. Florida, which spends about $36 per person, is ahead of only one U.S. jurisdiction, Puerto Rico, where the per capita spending is about $20.Southwest Florida, one of the demographically oldest parts of the state, suffers from a lack of children’s treatment providers, programs and funding.” 

Warnings of the Florida mental health epidemic already appeared before the pandemic. “Therefore it is no surprise that only 36.3% of adults with mental illness in Florida receive any form of treatment from either the public system or private providers (according to SAMHSA). The remaining 63.7% receive no mental health treatment. According to Mental Health America, Florida is ranked 28 out of the 50 states and Washington D.C. for providing access to mental health services.”

Mental Health Statistic Florida 4: County Jails as a Substitute For The Mental Healthcare System?

“One of the major problems is that Florida devotes $718 million a year to mental-health programs, but it pours nearly $1 billion a year into jails and prison for housing and medicating mentally ill inmates. Unfortunately there is a strong positive correlation between rates of adults who are in the criminal justice system and lack of access to mental health care.”

One study concluded that the consequence of these factors is that “county jails have become the de facto mental health care system.” 262 In 2014, there were 744,600 inmates in county and city jails. If 20% of them had a serious mental illness, jail inmates with severe psychiatric disease in U.S. jails numbered approximately 149,000 that year. The number has grown since then. 263 As Kaeble notes, “If the estimated populations of jail and state prison inmates with serious mental illness are combined, there is an estimated population of 383,200 inmates with mental illness. Since there are only approximately 38,000 individuals with serious mental illness remaining in state mental hospitals, this means 10 times more individuals with serious mental illness are in jails.

Florida Mental Health Epidemic Statistic 5: Mental Illness and Correlated Crime Rates

  • 70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have a mental health condition.
  • 25 percent of people with a serious mental illness has been arrested by the police at some point in their lifetime. ( Source: nami.org)

Mental Health Statistic Florida 6: “Nearly 3 Million Adults in Florida Have a Mental Health Issue”

Around a third of adults in Florida who did not receive needed mental health care, half of it did not because of cost. (Source: nami.org)

Florida Mental Health Epidemic Statistic 7: Florida has a Lack of Mental Health Professionals

Over six million people in Florida live in a community that does not have enough mental health professionals. (Source: nami.org)

Mental Health Statistic Florida Statistic 8: High School Students have too little access to Mental Healthcare

In 2020 “64.2% of Floridians age 12–17 who have depression did not receive any care in the last year.” (Source: nami.org)

Florida Mental Health Epidemic Statistic 9: Suicide Mortality 2020 Florida

In 2020 3,135 people in Florida committed suicide. Compared to other states, Florida has a relative low suicide rate. (Source: cdc.gov) Suicide ranks in the top ten list of leading causes of death in Florida.

Mental Health Statistic Florida Statistic 10: Substance Abuse Rates in Florida.

“Approximately 8% of Florida citizens are using illicit drugs at any given point in time, which comes out to be approximately 1.5 million Floridians.” (Source: rrtampa.com)

Mental Health Statistic Florida Statistic 11: Overdose Death Rate

The drug overdose death rate is 25.5 (per 100,000) (Source: cdc.gov) In comparison Connecticut has a drug overdose death rate of 34.8 (per 100,00).

Florida Mental Health Epidemic Statistics 12: Excessive Drinking

Around 15.5% of all adults 18+ are drinking excessively in Florida. Only 7 other states have higher rates of excessive drinking than Florida. (Source: americashealthrankings.org/)

A Word From Healthy Lifestyle Florida 

Mental Health Statistic Florida stats prove that there is a need for improvement of mental healthcare in Florida. Some of the areas for improvement are funding and staffing issues. This problem cannot be solved in a day but a raising population it is now time to get prepared for an aging population that will need even more mental health services in the future. And one thing is for sure. After discovering a mental health epidemic in 2014 and a second time in 2021 we cannot wait any longer. We need to start taking action today. In the meantime “talking with a primary care provider is a common first step to find mental health care.”

Also recommended for you: How to raise resilient super healthy kids and “One Thing Mentally Strong women Do every day.”

Antje Diana Baumgarten

Antje Diana Baumgarten

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