In the wake of National Mental Health Awareness Week and a new fiscal budget year, experts in the field and county officials are looking to further address mental-health issues.
UF psychiatry professor Rajiv Tandon spoke to county commissioners during a special County Commission meeting Tuesday afternoon about mental health problems facing Alachua County and the need for a plan to address those issues.
"In terms of our county, we have a number of really good resources," Tandon said. But a comprehensive, long-term plan is needed to further tackle issues, he added.
With the 2016 fiscal year budget, commissioners set $150,000 aside for mental-health needs separate from funds already directed toward mental health services. Discussion during Tuesday’s meeting focused on how and where to spend the money.
The amount isn’t enough for the comprehensive plan proposed by Tandon, "but it’s better than zero," Commissioner Ken Cornell said.
"In the current budget year, what we have to decide is how are we going to allocate that ($150,000), and more than likely it should go towards planning for a comprehensive plan or taking some small cases to prove out some techniques that may work on a larger scale," Cornell said.
Tandon said the Alachua County mental-health coalition would likely be tasked with developing a plan that includes education about mental health and improvement of mental health care providers and services.
County commissioners recently approved $465,000 to meet the mental-health needs of the working poor in Alachua County, Cornell said.