At the annual Florida Behavioral Health Conference in Orlando on Wednesday, a new statewide association launched with the support of a prominent Florida Republican.
The newly launched Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA) defines itself as the “state’s largest trade association representing community behavioral health treatment providers with a united voice” and focused on “bringing renewed attention and awareness to mental health and substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery in Florida.”
The FBHA is the outgrowth of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health and the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association.
“Issues that have historically been considered taboo are now unfortunately making headlines on almost a daily basis,” said FBHA President and CEO Melanie Brown-Woofter on Wednesday. “The consolidation of these organizations comes at a critical time as policymakers tackle the state’s opioid epidemic and mental health challenges in schools, workplaces, and communities. We must work together to offer strategic solutions with a stronger, united, cohesive voice.”
The FBHA noted that one out of five residents of the Sunshine State experience mental illness and 4 percent of adults in the state have a serious mental illness.
The FBHA also noted that 12 residents of Florida die every day thanks to opioids–something that was on the mind of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody when she spoke at the conference on Wednesday.
“Mental health and substance-use disorders are among the greatest challenges facing our state today,” Moody said. “My office continues aggressively fighting the opioid crisis and working to address pressing mental health issues affecting our criminal justice system. What I have found is that government cannot meet these challenges alone. We must work collaboratively to find innovative solutions with partners around the state.
“Today’s launch of the FBHA is more than just a name change—it is an opportunity for Florida’s top experts to work together to help families who have loved ones who are hurting. This is important work that will improve the quality of life for all Floridians,” Moody added.