mental illness

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Florida lawmakers want broader workers' compensation coverage for first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder. But a new version of the bill would add more requirements as well.

Victoria Weler / WFSU

Florida universities don’t always have the resources to help students with mental illnesses. Addressing mental health issues is a serious problem faced by institutions. They are expected to play a central role in identifying symptoms and helping individuals succeed. WFSU spoke to a student who feels her university offered support during a difficult time. 

Florida Capitol
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Saint Petersburg Rep. Kathleen Peters has filed legislation to increase mental health treatment. It adds certain mental health and substance abuse services to the state’s Medicaid program through a safety network.

Rene Garcia
Florida Senate /

Florida families are calling on the state to fully fund mental health services. Social service agencies say the lack of funding for mental health care and substance abuse means more people incarcerated or living on the streets.

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Since the 1970s, the hard on crime ethos has fueled the era of mass incarceration. Simultaneously, the country defunded public mental health services. A ballooning criminal justice system came in to fill that vacuum. Now the Florida Legislature is poised to reform the way mental illness is handled in that system.

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Under Florida law, people must be mentally competent before they stand trial. Now some state lawmakers are working on reforms for defendants who are incompetent. While a similar proposal was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott in 2013, this year the measure could get another chance.

Wendy via Flikr / WFSU News

Society often stigmatizes mental illness as a crime rather than an illness. In Tallahassee experts say new solutions are needed, including more access to care and community involvement.

Capital Report: 08-23-2013

Aug 23, 2013

Since April, 20 children who had already been on the Department of Children and Family’s radar, died from child abuse or neglect. It’s a number state officials say must shrink and, as Regan McCarthy reports, even though it’s months before the start of the next legislative session, lawmakers are already working with experts and community leaders to find solutions.

Florida Department of Children and Families

A disability-rights organization has filed a federal lawsuit alleging Florida improperly "warehouses" people with mental illnesses in its psychiatric institutions. Disability Rights Florida is calling for the state to be forced to provide treatment services for some mentally ill people within the patients’ communities. 

The American Bar Association has filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reexamine the case of a Florida death row inmate scheduled to be executed next week. Law scholars say the case could help clarify exactly how mentally ill someone must be to avoid being put to death.

John Errol Ferguson is set to be executed Monday for eight murders he committed in the Miami area during the 1970s. But his lawyer says Ferguson refers to himself as the “Prince of God” and believes his death will not be permanent.

Perspectives: Art Therapy

Jun 6, 2013

Producing art has become an accepted therapy for combating mental illness. Florida State University Art Therapy Graduate Students Samantha Maederer and Mallori Willis discuss the matter, along with FSU Art Therapy Program Director Professor Marcia Rosal.

A new study concludes, Florida taxpayers will be footing the bill for mentally ill patients after the Legislature rejected Medicaid expansion under the Federal healthcare reform law. Medicaid expansion would have covered treatment for Floridians living with mental illness.

Tens of millions of federal Medicaid dollars would have covered Floridians, a move Gov. Scott supported but the Legislature rejected this year.

Judy Evans, Florida director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said, hundreds of thousands of uninsured Floridians have mental illnesses.

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The national gun-control debate is echoing in the committee rooms of the Florida Legislature this week. Since Wednesday, three bills relating to firearms have passed House committees, two of them after intense debates.

On the same day President Obama is pushing tighter gun control at the White House, the Florida House Judiciary Committee has passed a memorial, or an official legislative memo, with its own message for the president.

A Florida man who was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday is being given the chance to prove his insanity. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an emergency stay of execution for convicted eight-time murderer John Ferguson late Tuesday evening.

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Florida is scheduled to execute a convicted murderer, after an appeals court vacated his execution stay on Monday. But, the man’s lawyers say he is too insane to be killed, and they’ve filed an emergency request for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court.

John Ferguson was convicted of killing eight people in the Miami area in the 1970's. But, his lawyer, Ben Lewis, says, Ferguson’s long-documented mental illness makes it unconstitutional to execute him.

Today, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a death-row inmate is mentally fit to be executed. But, lawyers for the man, John Ferguson, plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. They say he is a paranoid schizophrenic who’s unable to understand his own death.

Ferguson’s lawyers say, he suffered from mental delusions, even before being convicted of several murders in the 1970's. But the Florida high court is agreeing with a judge who ruled him mentally fit.