Looking at the spate of mass shootings taking place in Florida – the shootout at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando in 2016, the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooting in 2017, and the recent Parkland school massacre on Valentine’s Day which killed 17 injured many more – Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently signed the Senate Bill 7026 to ensure tightened security in schools. Also known as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, the law is the first gun control legislation to come into effect in the state in nearly 20 years. It is also aimed at assisting schools with better mental health services and programs.
As the Governor took the historic step, he declared, “This is a time for us to come together, roll up our sleeves and get it done.”
Some of the noteworthy provisions for the $400 million school safety package are:
The new law envisions a larger role for the community health care providers by empowering schools to connect their students in need to the mental health resources in the community. President and CEO of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health Melanie Brown Woofter applauded the new Bill and said “This bill provides our state with a tremendous opportunity for early intervention in schools and local communities and is a first step to better understand and help address the mental health needs of Florida’s youth.”
Talking about mental health is essential
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the symptoms of a mental disorder are often apparent in adolescents as early as 14 years. However, in nearly 50 percent cases, it takes 8 to 10 years, on an average, before the condition is diagnosed correctly. While there are many reasons that account for this anomaly, the primary seems to be lack of public awareness. People are still unwilling to talk about mental health conditions because of the associated stigma. However, with the new law coming into force, the likelihood of starting a dialogue on what needs to be done to help those struggling with mental health is highly likely. Though it is one small step, it could have a far-reaching impact on the state of mental health of youngsters in the days to come.
Sovereign Health of Florida, a premier behavioral health treatment provider, offers holistic mental health treatment to patients suffering from a range of psychiatric problems. If you have a loved one grappling with mental health issues, call our 24/7 helpline member or chat online with an expert for more information on our evidence-based treatment for mental health.
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