Law enforcement officers are Baker Acting at alarming rates

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LAKELAND – Over the past year, a grand jury described Florida’s mental illness treatment system is a “sad state” and an “urgent problem”.

In Polk County, Mental Health Treatment Workers Completed one year of study recently, it shows that one in seven of your friends, neighbors and co-workers says they are living with depression or are otherwise at risk for behavioral health problems.

Law enforcement officials have become the front line in the fight against mental illness.

More in this series: Law enforcement officers are the first line of defense in the war against the “invisible enemy”

And: After personal struggles, criminology professor advocates for decriminalization of mental illness

You want to know more ? : Mental Health in Polk County and Florida: Read All the Stories in Our Series

According to the website of the Baker Act Report Center at the University of South Florida:

• Florida’s population grew by approximately 22% to 21.5 million people.

• The Baker Acts soared 121%

• 2001-2002 – 95,574 people

• 2018-2019 – 210,992 people

Even more alarming are the Baker Act statistics for minors:

• 152% increase

• 2001-2002 – 15,000 children

• 2018-2019 – 37,900 children

Law enforcement officials and doctors were the main initiators of the Baker Acts, which allow patients to be assessed for up to three days. It can be extended by a judge.

• 51% initiated by the police;

• 46 initiated by a physician, clinical psychologist, psychiatric nurse, mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist or clinical social worker;

• 3% was done through an ex parte order, which can be filed by anyone who observed the mental illness behavior and could describe the actions.

Over the past 10 years, the total number of Baker Acted people in Polk County has increased by over 50%:

• 2009-2010 – 5,588 people

• 2018-2019 – 8,407 people

Juveniles Baker Acted over the past decade has doubled:

• 2009-2010 – 1,009 children

• 2018-2019 – 1,999 children

Read the full story: Mental health: law enforcement officers are the first line of defense in the war against the “invisible enemy”

To get help

The Polk County Peace River Center offers a 24 hour emotional and crisis support line: 863-519-3744 or toll free at 800-627-5906.

Ledger reporter Kimberly C. Moore can be reached at [email protected] or 863-802-7514. Follow her on Twitter at @KMooreTheLedger.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Mental health: Florida Baker Acts climbed 121%

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