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Florida’s new legislation on guns and mental health funding

Posted on 03-09-2018 Posted in Mental Health, Mental Illness - 0 Comments

Florida’s new legislation on guns and mental health funding

In June 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard and homophobe, opened fire in the bustling gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando, Florida. Before he was finally put down, Mateen had killed 49 people and wounded 58 others. Even before the memory of the bloodbath could fade, another massacre struck Florida. This time, a school was the target. Disenchanted teen Nicolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, went on a shooting spree in February 2018, killing 14 students and three teachers using a semiautomatic rifle. As many people were left injured in this incident.

The school shooting lasted barely six minutes, but by the time Nicolas made an exit, the campus was strewn with dead bodies. The terror-stricken survivors are still fearful of returning to school. PTSD, anxiety and depression are rife among the students as they sadly remember the departed. The incident has terrified not just the students and the staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but also those in other institutions in and around the city. Described as one of the deadliest school massacres in recent history, it has nevertheless prompted the entire community to stress on gun control and mental health funding.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act

On March 6, 2018, the Florida Senate passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act. Two days later, the Florida House also cleared the bill 67-50. It is now for the Governor Rick Scott to approve the bill. Some of the notable inclusions of the bill, which passed the scrutiny of the House are as under:

  • Raising the age for purchasing firearms from 18 to 21.
  • Banning the sale of bump fire stocks.
  • Giving law enforcement officers more authority to seize arms from those who they consider mentally unstable.
  • Providing additional funding to armed school resource officers and mental health services.

Also included in the legislation are proposals to allocate nearly $90 million more for mental health resources, which includes $69 million for schools. Gov. Scott has asked for a $500 million grant for school safety and for provision of counselling and other services for children in shock after such an incident. The legislation also includes a controversial provision that allows some teachers to carry arms.

The lack of funding towards mental health services has been ailing Florida for long. According to Melanie Brown-Woofter, interim president of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health, though the state has increased funding for mental health services by $218 million, it has not taken into account the rising costs of living, which has increased exorbitantly. As a result, Florida is spending less on mental health services than what it did in 2000.

Early detection key to preventing such shootings

One of the primary duties of the state is to ensure that its citizens are safe and sound. To that end, it is necessary that mental illnesses are detected early and proper treatment and rehabilitation is provided so that the sufferers can get back to normalcy as soon as possible.

A leading behavioral health care provider, Sovereign Health of Florida offers top-notch treatment for various mental health disorders, including anxiety and depressive disorders. Residential depression treatment at our state-of-the-art facility may involve medications, psychosocial treatments, behavioral therapies and experiential therapies. With the goal to provide long-term care, all our patients are provided with personalized treatment plans. To learn more about our evidence-based treatment for mental health issues or to locate our mental health treatment center get in touch today. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our admission specialist.

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