The Mental Health National Outcome numbers collected by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for Florida in 2016 showed that 214,257 people with mental illness were served through the state mental health agency, at a cost of over $700 million, or $36.40 per Florida citizen.
While those numbers seem high, it is estimated that over 600,000 more children and adults that reside in Florida suffer from mental illness.
A survey conducted by SAMHSA between 2009 and 2013, found that a large number of mental health issues or illnesses go untreated.
The Behavioral Health Barometer, which summarized that survey, found that 69 percent of adolescents in Florida that reported a major depressive episode on the survey did not receive treatment.
Those numbers extended into the adult population as well.
Of the estimated 525,000 adults per year, 3.6 percent of the population, that had some sort of mental illness, over 63 percent did not receive treatment.
While those numbers seem daunting, the survey did find that approximately 76 percent of those that did receive treatment in the public mental health system reported approved functioning.
According to Kathryn Land, the clinical director of Morning Light Wellness Center in Port St. Joe, those from outlying or rural areas are most susceptible to go without treatment.
“Those are the people who fall through the cracks,” Land said.
According to Land, areas such as Panama City have plenty of options, both public and private, for those seeking treatment.
Areas like Gulf County not so much.
That is one of the reasons that Morning Light decided to open up their office in Port St. Joe a little over a month ago.
The mental health center which deals in cases ranging for periodic anxiety to lifelong mental illness, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, is now open Monday through Friday weekly.
According to Land, those working in the office include case managers to therapists, with Land herself being a qualified psychiatric nurse practitioner who can evaluate patients and recommend the next course of action.
“A lot of times people get into a crisis and they end up at the emergency room,” Land said. “Of course that is not the appropriate place.”
While Land applauded those at the hospital for the work that they do, she stated that they do not have all the resources needed to handle mental illness cases.
According to Land, facilities like Morning Light Wellness Center offer everything from treatment to direction and even a ride to different appointments.
“We’re looking at the physical, mental and spiritual health of each patient,” Land said of Morning Light’s holistic approach.
While a for-profit business, Morning Light has taken in uninsured cases in the past and wishes to grow that practice into the future, said Land.
The director also offered workshops to those in the community that wish to learn more about mental illness.
“We want to make this whole community more healthy,” Land said. “We just want the community to be aware of mental health issues and what kind of services are available.”
Morning Light Wellness Center is located in the Town Centre Plaza on U.S. Highway 98.