Gov. Scott Ceremonially Signs Legislation to Help Floridians Affected by Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2016

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Gov. Scott Ceremonially Signs Legislation to Help Floridians Affected by Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

MIAMI, Fla. – Today,Governor Rick Scott ceremonially signed Senate Bill 12 which creates a coordinated system of care to better help state agencies and local organizations work together to best treat Floridians affected by mental illness and substance abuse. This legislation will also help ensure individuals have every opportunity to receive services and support regardless of how they enter the behavioral healthcare system.

Governor Rick Scott said, “I am honored to ceremonially sign this important legislation today during Mental Health Awareness Month, and I look forward to seeing these changes implemented in our behavioral healthcare system. We need to do all we can to support the individuals and their families who are affected by mental illness and substance abuse, and this legislation is a great step forward to achieving that goal. I would like to thank bill sponsor Senator Rene Garcia, Senator Bill Galvano, Senator Jeremy Ring, Representative Gayle Harrell, Representative Kathleen Peters and every legislator who supported this significant bill.”

Last year, Governor Scott also signed two executive orders to create pilot programs in three Florida counties to help determine how to better deliver mental health treatment services to those who need it most. These pilot programs are focused on providing treatment in communities instead of institutions, and help address the fragmented system of care across the state. The executive orders also created a collaborative partnership between the Department of Corrections, Department of Children and Families, the Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration to implement best management practices to improve mental health services in Florida. 

Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll said, “Governor Rick Scott and our partners in the Legislature have made a tremendous commitment to mental health and substance abuse services in Florida. The passing of this important bill will make services more accessible for individuals in crisis and help develop a more coordinated approach in delivering those services. Ensuring that individuals and families have access to the help they need is crucial to the mission of the department.”

Senator Rene Garcia said, "This legislation is a landmark for those Floridians dealing with psychiatric illness and substance use disorders, for the healthy and robust public discussion, engaging all stakeholders that led to its crafting and passage. For far too long, people struggling with these diseases have remained hidden in the shadows of stigma and prejudice. This legislation shines a light on an epidemic public health issue, and provides a path forward. SB 12 creates the structure for an integrated and efficient system of behavioral healthcare that will, when fully implemented, provide effective access to necessary treatment across the state.”

Senator Bill Galvano said, “This bill creates strong partnerships across multiple agencies and organizations to make sure our entire state is working together to help those who are affected by mental illness and substance abuse. I am honored to have played a role in passing this important Legislation and I appreciate the support of my fellow Legislative members and Governor Scott.”

Senator Jeremy Ring said, “SB 12 shows that we are committed to helping the Floridians and their families who suffer from mental health and substance abuse. I am thankful to Governor Scott and my fellow Legislators for making this issue a priority in our state.”

Representative Gayle Harrell said, “I appreciate the work of Governor Scott and the Legislature to pass this significant legislation and enhance treatments for Floridians affected by mental health and substance abuse. We will continue to fight on behalf of the individuals and families who most deserve our care and support.”

Representative Kathleen Peters said, “I am thankful for Governor Scott signing SB 12, which creates a comprehensive plan for delivering behavior health services to the Floridians who need it most. This is the first step to ensuring Floridians suffering from mental illness or substance addiction can improve health, and professional and personal relationships while growing towards their full potential.”