Health experts continue to encourage mental health dialogue

Mental Health on the Suncoast

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - In addressing the weekend, President Trump placed at least some of the blame on an inattention to mental illness on Monday.

“We must reform laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence, and make sure those people get treatment, but necessary involuntary confinement," he said.

“Florida is one of the worst states for mental health services of any state,” Dr. Eddy Regnier, who is a psychologist in private practice in Sarasota, and he’s trying to raise awareness on the Suncoast.

“A small percentage of mentally ill people are violent. Most mentally ill people are often victims of violence than being the perpetrator,” he said.

He says in extreme cases, Florida laws like the Baker Act allow people with mental illness to be held involuntarily up to 72 hours at a mental health treatment facility.

“It’s not an arrest, it is a safe place for those individuals to go that need to be stabilized. They’re going to receive a screening, and an evaluation by a psychiatrist,” said P.J. Brooks, Vice President of Outpatient and Youth Services for First Step Sarasota.

However, health experts say it’s important for family members and friends to help those in need.

“We as a community, not just the professionals, like law enforcement to the mental health practitioner, that we as people citizens, family members that we’re on an era to report out,” said Brooks.

“We’re in a good place right now, to get some services we’re not there yet, we have a long way to go but at least people talking, the right message is being sent,” said Regnier.

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