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How We Work

Florida's publicly funded mental health services and supports are managed by the Mental Health Program Office, within the larger Department of Children and Families. There is both a Mental Health Program Office and a Substance Abuse Program Office.  The state offices are combined in local Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) Circuit Program Offices. In addition, we recognize that most people receiving publicly funded mental health services also have co-occurring substance use disorders and we are committed to addressing both.

Central Mental Health Program Office
The Adult part of the state Central Mental Health Program Office includes two sections based in Tallahassee, Florida. The two sections are: Facilities and Community Mental Health. The Facilities Section works with the state mental residential treatment facilities located around the state. The Community Mental Health section works with community programs and people living outside state residential treatment facilities. The Adult Section:

  • Provides statewide policy guidance for the Circuit (local) mental health program offices and state mental health treatment facilities
  • Assists in the development of statewide legislative budget requests
  • Reviews proposed legislation that would affect adult mental health
  • Provides technical assistance to Circuit SAMH staff, providers of services and supports, and most importantly, people with serious mental illnesses and their families
  • Coordinates data analysis for adult mental health programs
  • Collaborates with other DCF programs, the Children's Mental Health Program Office, and other agencies, programs and people around the needs of / provision of services and supports for adults with serious mental illnesses

Circuit Mental Health Program Offices
There are 20 local Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Offices in Florida. DCF's local service areas match boundaries with Judicial Circuits. Some local offices cover more than one Judicial Circuit. Each year, the Florida Legislature appropriates money to the Central Mental Health Program Office. This money is then allocated to each Circuit. Circuit offices then contract with local community-based providers, agencies, and facilities that serve people in crisis, with serious mental illnesses, and / or substance use disorders.

It is the local offices that actually manage and oversee the public mental health system. Within each Circuit office, there are people responsible for monitoring and assisting with local adult and / or children's mental health services and supports. Responsibilities of these staff can include:

  • Negotiating and monitoring contracts with providers of supports and services
  • Working collaboratively with other state agencies, programs and services such as schools, local hospitals, mental health agencies, community mental health centers, and local stakeholders like county governments, advocates and consumer groups
  • Providing information and technical assistance to individuals, families and other community stakeholders about local or statewide services and supports.

Who We Serve

Resources in the public mental health system for adults are focused on people in crisis, people with serious, disabling or potentially disabling mental illnesses who live in the community, who cannot otherwise access mental health care, and certain people with serious mental illnesses who get involved with the criminal justice system.

Adults in mental health crisis - This group includes people who are 18 or older who:

  • Meet criteria under the Baker Act for admission to a mental health receiving facility; or
  • Show evidence of a recent stressful event and significant problems coping with that event.

Adults with severe psychiatric disabilities - This group includes people 18 or older who have a diagnosis or diagnostic impression of a mental disorder meeting DSM-III-R Axis I (Primary Psychiatric Diagnosis) or Axis II (Secondary Psychiatric Diagnosis), and who meet any of the following criteria:

  • Receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Disabled Veteran Income or other type of disability income due to a psychiatric disability; or
  • Receives Social Security Income (SSI) for reasons other than a psychiatric disability and has a serious and persistent mental illness; or
  • Has documented evidence of a long term psychiatric disability, and does not need, is unable to apply or refuses to apply for disability benefits; or
  • Does not receive disability income due to a psychiatric disability but has applied for disability income that is in process due to psychiatric disability or has received such income in the past five (5) years.

Adults with a serious mental illness and forensic (court) involvement - This group includes people over 18 who meet any of the following criteria:

  • Have an "incompetent to proceed (ITP)" court order due to mental illness; or
  • Have a "not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI)" court order for evaluation of competency or sanity; or
  • Are on conditional release due to a mental illness.