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Letter to Editor – Tom Riggs – Directions for Mental Health

Tampa Tribune – Letters to Editor

Treating Mental Health
 Regarding "Florida Needs Plan To Keep Jails From Warehousing Mentally Ill" (Our Opinion, April 7):
 Most in the legal and community mental health systems know that many people run into trouble with the law due to symptoms of mental illnesses. We must provide these individuals the treatment they need before their symptoms make them dangers to themselves or others.
 In Clearwater, Directions for Mental Health, Inc.’s Crisis Response Team provides emergency care for people in psychiatric crises. But budget cuts proposed by the Florida House threaten to severely limit the program’s funding. If these cuts are passed, we will see increased strain on emergency rooms, increased workload for law enforcement and limited help for people in crisis.
 Ask your legislators to support the Senate’s plan to fully fund with non-recurring funds community mental health programs across the state administered by the Department of Children and Families, instead of following the House plan to cut all funding for these programs in half. Bay area families in crisis deserve a place to turn for help – and law enforcement deserves the support of a functioning community mental health system.
 The writer is a physician. The writer is president and CEO of Directions for Mental Health Inc.