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. 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.
Statistic 2: Rise in Adult Depression Due To Covid Pandemic
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.”
Statistic 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.
A Word From Healthy Lifestyle Florida
The improvement of mental healthcare in Florida is a funding and staff issue. 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.