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Mental illness advocates say Fl budget lacks funding

Mental Health
Posted at 6:03 PM, Jul 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-01 14:49:12-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)--Mental health advocates say they've seen millions of dollars of cuts to services over the last few years and the state needs to do a better at funding them.

Spending her time working on activities here at the Apalachee center is almost a daily routine for Rebekah Turpin.

"If I wasn't here, I'd probably get depressed a lot , not be able to do much, that's why i come here to get out for the day," said Turpin.

It's a place she goes to cope Rebekah suffers from two mental illnesses including bi-bolar disorder and schizophrenia.

"I would be going crazy and hurting people and hurting myself," said Turpin.

The 32-year old is proof that state funding for mental illness is much needed. She says her medications would cost her about $600 dollars a month without the state's help and the programs they offer.

That's why Bob Sharpe, the CEO of the Florida Council for Community Health is passionate about pushing the state to provide more funding.

"$21 million is such a small amount to try and cover the needs for such a large population in such a large state, as Florida we need to do much better," said Sharpe.

Sharpe says the legislature restored about $21 million dollars of funding this year, but that's on top of the more than $16 million dollars they cut.

Florida is also close to the bottom when it comes to funding these services which ranks 49th out of 50 states.

Representative Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda says that's exactly why the state must do better.

"Although we've had some progress, its certainly not enough, we really need to robustly fund mental health in this state," said Rehwinkel Vasilinda.

Rebekah is hoping they'll make even more a priority next year.

"I'm not crazy, just something I have to go through, something i need," said Turpin.

So centers like Apalachee can remain open to help her and thousands more who benefit from the services.