A partnership among Central Florida Behavioral Health Network and several Pinellas County agencies is yielding positive results by diverting nonviolent offenders from jails and emergency rooms to behavioral health care services, providing individuals the care they need and saving taxpayers money. Since 2018, Baker Act exams have decreased by 68% and arrests by 41% within one year of clients being enrolled in the program.
CFBHN, the Managing Entity for Central and Southwest Florida, is working with the Pinellas County Human Services, Pinellas County Health Department, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, and University of South Florida College of Behavioral & Community Sciences on a program called Pinellas Integrated Care Alliance. Partners in the PICA program increase access to mental health services, address system inequalities, and improve care coordination efforts.
When the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office receives a behavioral health-related call, a deputy and a trained clinician respond and determine if the PIC team is needed. If coordination with the PIC team is necessary, community behavioral health care providers engage and connect the individual to resources.
“Pinellas residents who have engaged with PICA have shown significant improvements because of the local community-based care coordination approach among multiple agencies, which has led to improved follow-up care and long-term behavioral health outcomes for these individuals,” said Linda McKinnon, CEO of CFBHN.
Throughout the partnership, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has played an essential role with all agencies and initially funded a $200,000 grant to help the group provide wraparound services to individuals in recovery. The Sheriff’s Office has also agreed to finance the program’s continuation with the county as the other grant funding ends.
“Our deputies have found great success in working with clinicians on crisis calls,” said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. “This alliance has created a more effective response mechanism to people living with serious mental health issues and getting their problems addressed more appropriately.”
“PICA’s program has consistently shown positive results in the Pinellas community in improving pathways to treatment for individuals with mental illness who may otherwise be involved in the criminal justice system,” said Dr. Anna Davidson Abella, College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida. “PIC Team clients have shown clear improvements in self-sufficiency and behavioral health functioning, and client feedback suggests that the care coordination they receive from the team helps to fill a gap in the behavioral health system.”
Central Florida Behavioral Health Network is one of Florida’s seven Managing Entities that participate in co-responder programs across the state. Managing Entities oversee a network of approximately 300 health care provider organizations delivering behavioral health services, including mental health and substance use disorder treatment, to more than 320,000 uninsured Floridians. Providers meet patients’ diverse needs with “wraparound services” that not only address mental health and substance use issues but also assist with housing, transportation, and employment.
About the Florida Association of Managing Entities
The Florida Association of Managing Entities (FAME) is the statewide organization representing Florida’s seven Managing Entities. FAME’s mission is to advance the behavioral health recovery of individuals and their families in the state of Florida. More information about FAME is available at flmanagingentities.com.