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Florida aims to build a comprehensive crisis response system


Florida is getting attention for its efforts to create a comprehensive crisis response system for mental health needs.

A new report by the mental health advocacy group Inseparable calls for policies to expand 988 call center capacity, increase the availability of mobile response units, create more crisis stabilization centers and establish stable funding mechanisms to sustain the services.

Melanie Brown-Woofter, president of the Florida Behavioral Health Association, said the Sunshine State is doing all that and more to provide care for anyone in crisis, including adding more clinics.

"And now the certified community behavioral health clinics, we are really building an entire system that allows an individual in crisis to seek care and be linked to the right level of care at the right time," Brown-Woofter explained. "And to have those resources available that they need."

She pointed out with Florida operating mobile response teams for over 30 years, it is well ahead of other states. She notes the increased state funding to expand services and to establish central receiving facilities, which are not yet available in every state.

The facilities provide what she described as a full continuum of care, from crisis intervention to residential treatment, detox services and child care, all in one location.

Angela Kimball, chief advocacy officer for Inseparable, said it features solutions designed to ensure everyone in a mental health crisis receives the right services at the right time and provides a detailed roadmap for lawmakers.

"Our real goal here is to help create a very visual, easy to understand tool that lets them understand how they can be that champion," Kimball emphasized. "That helps ensure that no one's worst day keeps them from living their best life."

Another objective for Kimball is to spark conversations about what is achievable. For instance, the report showcased Oklahoma's RideCare program, which offers non-law enforcement transportation to urgent recovery centers. Oklahoma also distributed nearly 30,000 iPads equipped with crisis de-escalation tools to first responders and others.

Georgia provides "Peer2Peer Warm Lines" offering 24-hour support from trained specialists to people facing challenges who may not require emergency response.

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