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Local Advocacy

NAMI Smarts Advocacy Training
Monday, March 23, 2015 - 5 to 9 pm
St. Stephen Luthern Church, 2198 N. Meridian Road, Fellowship Hall, Tallahassee, 32303
Free, but registration is encouraged.  Contact or call 850.671.4445
The curriculum will focus on the following material: Family member stories; peer stories; stories of loss; 7 steps to telling your story; practice sheets; feedback; common salutations; how to contact elected officials and orchestrating a successful meeting with an elected official.

NAMI Florida - Advocacy Rally
Tuesday, March 24 - Capitol - Tallahassee, FL
9:30 am - Rally and Speakers, Old Capitol Steps, 400 S. Monroe Street
Schedule an appointment now to utilize the rest of the day to visit your local legislators. An advocacy training, NAMI Smarts, will be held Monday evening, March 23 from 5 to 9 pm at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 2198 N. Meridian Road, Fellowship Hall, Tallahassee, 32303.  For additional information and register for the advocacy training on Monday evening, contact or call 850.671.4445.

NAMI Smarts Advocacy Training
Friday, October 24, 2014 - 4:30 pm
Free, but registration is encouraged
Wellness Center, Room 2500, 960 Learning Way, FSU Campus 

Take this opportunity to prepare for the 2015 legislative session and learn to advocate for local issues.
 Smarts is a NAMI Signature training program designed to facilitate conversations with key government contacts and legislators.  Modules 1 and 3 will be taught by Dr. Sandra Van Pelt of Orlando on October 25th and is sponsored by NAMI-Tallahassee and NAMI on Campus at FSU.

Link to the online form to register or call 850.544-4522. Additional information on the Smarts program is linked here. Parking is available near the Center. Link to map

Big Bend Mental Health Coalition: 

Whose mission is to unite individuals, families and professionals into a coalition to advance mental health recovery in our community.  Monthly Big Bend Mental Health Coalition meetings are held on the second Monday of the month in Meeting Room A of the Leon County Public Library, located at 200 West Park Avenue, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Email for additional information on topics and agendas. The BBMH Coalition also maintains a Facebook presence as linked here. 

Leon County Mental Health Court:

NAMI-Tallahassee Lobbys for Mental Health Court from the Beginning
On June 22, 2011, the NAMI Tallahassee Board of Directors submitted individual letters of support to all Leon County Commissioners, with copies to relative officials, for the continuation of the Leon County Mental Health Court. For an explanation of the Court and NAMI Tallahassee's position, please refer to the letter linked here

We encourage you to contact your Commissioner to voice both the fiscal and moral importance of the continuance of this court. 

September 28, 2012, The Tallahassee Democrat publishes, "Funding for Mental Health Court Uncertain," supporting the court and linked here.
September 2012.  Five of seven county commissioners voted to approve the $100,000 allocation for competency services next year. Commissioners Bryan Desloge and Kristin Dozier voted against it out of concern for providing one-year funding without a long-term plan to sustain what’s so urgently needed.  Commission Chairman Akin Akinyemi and Commissioner Bill Proctor have led the efforts to promote funding services. Commissioner John Dailey, who had a change of heart on funding the competency services, pledged to bring up the issue again during next year’s budget cycle.
On Tuesday, May 15, 2012 , the Leon County Commission’s Public Safety Coordinating Council addressed mental health services as they impact the criminal justice system.  The Public Safety Coordinating Council is an advisory committee that reports to the County Commission and is expected to recommend funding of several key positions supporting the mental health docket for the Commission Budget Workshop on May 22.

At the May 8, 2012, Leon County Commission Meeting, Commissioner Proctor made a motion to readdress funding levels for Mental Health Court and add it to the full budget discussion workshop on May 22.  The Commission unanimously (7-0) passed the motion.  Several commissioners warned that this action was not intended to raise expectations of funding, and three specifically said they oppose full funding of the Mental Health Court. Documents intended to persuade critically needed funding to support Mental Health Court are linked here:  a proposed budget, and an overview document. The document was prepared by the Big Bend Mental Health Commission for a meeting with Commissioner Akin Akinyemi in  in April.

To access the agenda and video of the May 8th Commission meeting or for more information, you may link to:

On December 6, 2011, NAMI-Tallahassee recognized Judge Jonathan Sjostrom, Court Mental Health Coordinator Kendra Brown and Judge Ronald Flury with the affiliate's highest award. The three were recognized for their leadership in implementing and administering the mental health court in Leon County.  The ceremony was held in the Leon County Commission Chambers.  NAMI-Tallahassee also made a cash contribution to Neighborhood Health Services in the name of the award recipients.
On September 12, 2011 the Tallahassee Democrat published the following Editorial supporting the Court:


Leon County's Mental Health Court is widely considered a model for other judicial circuits in Florida, a cost-effective investment that is nonetheless in a financial pinch.

Mental Health Court is a diversionary program that attempts to connect nonviolent defendants who have mental illnesses with resources that will help them avoid a recurrence of behaviors that led to their arrests in the first place.  While treatment costs less than recurring incarceration, these community-based programs do cost something, and because a three-year state grant that funded Leon Count's program ended in April, Public Defender Nancy Daniels is turning to local government to help with the cost, about $250,000 a year.  Ms. Daniels isn't asking for full funding, however.

The City Commission last week agreed to provide $30,000 for psychiatric medication, transportation and housing support for mental health defendants. Today, Ms. Daniels is asking the Leon County Commission to fund $46,000 for a mental health pretrial officer's position.  She said this is the critical employee who supervises and provides support to these defendants who can safely be released into the community after arrest.

The county determined in budget discussions a few weeks ago that it can't fully fund the program, and Ms. Daniels said "this will be enough to keep some parts of the mental health program going."

But without even that modest level of support, mentally ill defendants will be scattered throughout the criminal trial divisions with no consideration for their illness whatsoever.

Mental Health Court has widespread support from law enforcement. Longtime Wakulla County Sheriff David Harvey has been an outspoken champion of this diversionary program, contending that law enforcement "cannot serve as both front-line responders and a treatment system for the indigent mentally ill ... who commit crimes as a direct consequence of their illness."

In a 2009 case before the 1st District Court of Appeal, former FSU law school dean Sandy D'Alemberte saluted Leon County Circuit Court Judge Angela Dempsey, who has a reputation as a tough law-and-order judge, for her ruling that a nonviolent first-time defendant "amenable" to recovery not be sent to prison for the prescribed 12 years "during which time he's not going to be able to get any kind of treatment."

Ms. Dempsey said again last week that she was impressed with the work of Leon County's Mental Health Court.

In recent years, so many promising developments in treatment of mentally ill defendants have been made, with specialized forensic mental health treatment facilities and crisis stabilization units.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, mentally ill inmates are among the most expensive, often requiring close confinement and additional medical attention, including expensive psychotropic medications, in addition to the ordinary costs of confinement.

Investing a little bit in a system proven to be a cost-saver would be a solid decision by Leon County commissioners today.

On June 22, 2011, the NAMI Tallahassee Board of Directors submitted individual letters of support to all Leon County Commissioners, with copies to relative officials, for the continuation of the Leon County Mental Health Court. For an explanation of the Court and NAMI Tallahassee's position, please refer to the letter linked here

For national issues, please visit our Legislative Action Center for the latest Action Alerts and all the tools you need to be an effective advocate on public policy issues related to mental illness.

Related Files

LeonCoutyProposedBudget2012 (PDF File)
Akinyemi Commission Report (PDF File)
DemArtSept28 (PDF File)

Related Links

Commission Letter: Mental Health Court
Big Bend Mental Helath Coalition Facebook

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