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Florida Governor signs historic bill for gun control and mental health

Posted on 03-16-2018 Posted in Mental Health - 0 Comments

Florida Governor signs historic bill for gun control and mental health

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:

  • Raising the age bar for purchase of firearms from 18 to 21 years, with wait time increasing to three days and bump stocks being banned.
  • Inclusion of the controversial Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, named after a coach who died while protecting children in the Parkland school rampage. The $67 million provision allows certain school teachers to carry guns in school, provided the key local authorities in charge of the school district and local sheriff’s office are in agreement.
  • More than $69 million have been allocated for mental health assistance in schools. Additionally, there are provisions for counseling and school safety programs. Currently schools across America are woefully understaffed when it comes to counselors and social workers qualified for aiding children facing crisis or suffering from a mental health condition.
  • The new law also makes room for hiring at least one resource officer for each school.
  • The Bill also gives the law enforcement agencies greater power to seize ammunition from people who might be suffering from a mental health disorder.

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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