Behavioral Health Day 2019

The FBHA sponsored this year’s 2019-2020 Behavioral Day at the Capitol, with nearly 175 attendees who traveled to Tallahassee to meet with their local legislator to share their story and advocate for behavioral health issues. The theme “Well. Beyond Healthcare: Prevent. Support. Recover.” encompassed the work you do each day. It represents the many pathways for individuals to achieve long-term recovery or managing their mental illness.

The kick-off began in the morning with Melanie Brown-Woofter introducing Florida’s First Lady, Casey DeSantis, who discussed state agency coordination on behavioral health and announced the creation of the state’s (and nation’s) first Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator for disaster recovery, which will work under the Division of Emergency Management. Long time Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and Department of Health (DOH) employee Darcy Abbott was named the Director and will work to coordinate and provide mental health services in communities hit by disasters.

First Lady Casey DeSantis

Mrs. DeSantis was followed by Rep. Cyndi Stevenson (R-St. Augustine), AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew, Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Shultz, and closed with South Florida Wellness Network CEO Susan Nyamora, an individual in long-term recovery from substance use disorder and co-occurring mental health conditions who challenged state leaders to ease restrictions that prevent individuals in recovery from entering the workforce.

By the numbers: 3 advocacy training sessions, 175 attendees, 21 collaborating partners, and 26 scheduled legislative meetings (many thanks again to the Florida Police Benevolent Association for providing snack bags to attendees).

Not that it was a contest, but if it were:  Winners for most attendees and meetings: NE Florida (Child Guidance Center, Clay Behavioral Health, Gateway, River Region, SMA Healthcare, and Starting Point Behavioral Health)