Mental Health

State of Florida

Duval County mental health advocates are hoping a bill filed by a local lawmaker helps divert more people with mental illness from ending up in state hospitals or jail.

The measure would standardize mental health courts in Florida and create a pilot program expanding long-term care in Northeast Florida.

In 2012, the Jacksonville City Council failed to update the city’s human rights ordinance to include the First Coast's LGBT community. One of the sticking points was language referring to transgender residents. Some Council members reportedly didn’t want the ordinance to mention the words “gender identity or expression.”

In this week's issue of Folio Weekly, writer Clare Goforth follows the lives of several members of Jacksonville's transgender community. We speak with Goforth and two of the residents featured in the story: Jake Moore, UNF program coordinator for the LGBT Resource Center; and tattoo artist Synthia Roy.

The state Department of Children and Families has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Florida and move toward providing more options for people who are mentally ill to live in their communities instead of in state mental hospitals.

The advocacy group sued the department on the grounds that Florida was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing enough community placements for people who were ready to be discharged from mental hospitals overseen by DCF.

The Duval County Jail has served as the main mental health facility in the region for many years. The Jacksonville Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Collaborative -- composed of mental health professionals, county officials and law enforcement officers -- met last week to begin planning a central receiving facility to help treat people with mental illness before they're put behind bars. We speak with Tara Wildes, Director of the Department of Corrections at JSO, Dr. Christine Cauffield, Executive Director of SF Health Systems, and Kristellys Zolondek, Community Engagement Specialist at LSF Health Systems.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

On Thursday, mental health professionals, county officials and law enforcement officers started planning to create a centralized facility meant to keep people with mental illness out of jail.

We discuss the week's top news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Paula Horvath, Florida Times-Union columnist; Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor; Susan Eastman, Folio Weekly reporter; and A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics reporter.

Topics include Tropical Storm Erika, this week's Florida Mental Health Summit, and local business and civic leaders pushing for Mayor Lenny Curry to lead a community discussion about the city's Human Rights Ordinance.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Mental health professionals, advocates and those living with mental illness from across Florida converged at the Hyatt Hotel in Downtown Jacksonville this week.

Attendees of the Florida Mental Health Summit are hoping state lawmakers will reform mental health-care.

The gaps in Florida's mental health care system are laid bare in the experiences of Sean Harriford and his family, detailed in the Florida Times-Union this week. We discuss their story and the state's treatment system with Florida Times-Union reporter Derek Gilliam, Sean's brother Jonathan Harriford, and Mental Health America of Northeast Florida director Denise Marzullo.

This week Jacksonville University and the local chapter of the United Nations Association are sponsoring an open forum on climate, from greenhouse gases to sea level rise, and more. Climate experts agree that the world's overall temperature is headed upwards, but this doesn't mean every place is getting steadily and predictably warmer. Climate change is making the weather more variable, causing hotter summers, colder winters in some places, and more severe storms. What can we glean from the latest research, and in particular how is climate change expected to affect Florida with its thousands of miles of coastline? We discuss what's known and what isn't known about climate change with Dr. Jeremy Stalker, Jacksonville University ocean geologist.

Gov. Rick Scott has ordered an independent analysis of the state's prison system and the development of two prisons to test new ways of handling and housing prisoners with mental health issues, as well as the general population. Scott is also directing the Department of Corrections to work with the departments of Children and Families and Juvenile Justice on how to improve mental health services. That’s a change mental health advocates say is badly needed here in the Sunshine State. We discuss the issue with Denise Marzullo, President and CEO of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida.

As the nation marks Mental Health Month, we speak with Denise Marzullo, President & CEO of Mental Health America of Northeast Florida, about what can be done to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and how the "100 Portrait Project" photography exhibition aims to spark a community conversation about the topic.

As the U.S. works to normalize relations with Cuba, we speak with John Caulfield, retired American diplomat and former Chief of Mission with the US Interests Section in Havana, about what we could expect in the coming months in years for the island nation. As Havana’s senior U.S. diplomat, Caulfield achieved agreements on immigration, environmental protection, civil aviation and cultural exchange; championed the aspirations of ordinary Cubans to increase their political rights and economic opportunities in a difficult environment.  

psyberartist / Flickr

An ambitious proposal to revamp the state's system for delivering mental-health services became a casualty of the Florida House's early exit from the Capitol, as the plan's Florida Senate sponsor Wednesday refused to along with changes made by House members.

Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Jacksonville’s mental-health providers are brainstorming how to better serve prison and jail inmates despite small budgets.

Mental health providers and law-enforcement officers met Thursday and Friday to talk about the intersection of mental illness and criminal justice. The two-day event was meant to help identify gaps in service and how to bridge them.

Christine Cauffield is Executive Director at Lutheran Services Florida Health Systems. She says low funding is a persistent barrier.

David Torres / Google+

Many Duval County jail inmates live with mental illness, but the county struggles to provide enough mental-health services. That’s why local officials are hoping the state Legislature can help.  

A Jacksonville lawmaker is proposing one solution: Keep more criminals with mental illness from getting locked up in the first place.

Psychiatric nurse Lynnette Kennison remembers a particularly challenging day at the Duval County Pre-Trial Detention Center. That's the main jail in downtown Jacksonville.

Florida House of Representatives Website

Problems with mental-health services will be the subject of a public workshop in Jacksonville tomorrow. Several lawmakers representing Duval County will attend the forum at City Hall starting at 1 p.m. Duval County Legislative Delegation Coordinator Paula Shoup says Rep. Janet Adkins (R-Fernandina Beach) is hosting the event to see if there is new legislation needed.

Wikimedia Commons

For more than 20 years, the state of Florida and lawyers representing prisoners wrangled over inmates' health care, resulting in nearly a decade of federal-court oversight of health services in the Department of Corrections.

Now, lawyers who represented prisoners in the mid-1970s say conditions may be worse today than they were when attorneys for Michael Costello, an inmate at Florida State Prison, convinced a federal judge that inadequate health care amounted to a violation of Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

Rhema Thompson / WJCT

A student Gallup poll show Duval County Public Schools students seem to be more optimistic and emotionally healthy this year.

More than 56,000 students in grades 5 through 12 participated in the districtwide survey on student health and well-being. That’s up from  42,680 students last year, according to the district.

This year’s poll shows hope and engagement among Duval County students improved slightly by 2 percent. Student well-being - that is, how students think about and experience their lives - is up by 1 percent this year.

Duval County Public Schools

A new privately-funded position aims to tackle the mounting issue of mental health in Duval Schools.

Eva Rinaldi / Wikimedia Commons

The death of actor and comedian Robin Williams has unleashed a tide of emotion and discussion about how we deal with issues of mental illness in this country.

Reggie Fullwood, craft beer and the FSU Seminoles are in the headlines today.

Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida

As the chief executive of a local public health organization, it was somewhat ironic when Dawn Emerick started feeling like job-related stress was starting to affect her health.

Courtesy John Dykes

A grassroots effort to shield military veterans with post traumatic stress disorder from the fear and anxiety associated with Fourth of July fireworks is gaining traction around the country.

Aspen Ideas Festival

A new series executive produced by best-selling author and U.S. Army combat veteran Wes Moore will premiere on PBS stations this week.

binu kumar / Flickr

Tomorrow marks Child Mental Health Awareness Day, a day set aside to focus on the importance of children’s mental health — that positive mental health is essential to a kid’s whole development.

Wikimedia Commons

There is a long road ahead for improving mental health care on the First Coast, but local advocates are reporting progress.

Warren Miller

Yolanda Tucker raised her brothers, graduated from high school and college, and became a success in business.


Veterans' mental health issues are back in the headlines following the recent shooting at Fort Hood — the second fatal incident at the base in five years.

LLoyd Morgan / Flickr

Since 2009, more kids in Duval County’s middle and high schools say they’ve been the victims of bullying, and more local children say they have considered or attempted suicide.

Tara Wildes / Twitter

Using the criminal justice system as a provider of mental health services is a huge concern to across the country, including in Northeast Florida.