Tuesday, October 7th was NAMI Charlotte County meeting. It was standing room only at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care (CBHC) in Punta Gorda. With a panel from the F.A.C.T. Team, CBHC and Riverside Behavioral Center for a Q and A open format on a hot topic…The BAKER Act.
The Baker Act was set up in 1971 to protect the “rights of all individuals examined or treated for mental illness in Florida.” But after 43 years, a lot has changed…most of the change is how it is funded and at present how one is “Baker Acted.”
States DCF Brochure: What Is Involuntary Examination and How Is It Conducted?
- An involuntary exam is a psychiatric exam conducted without a person’s consent, often called “getting Baker Acted.”
- Involuntary exams are initiated by:
- Law enforcement officers (49%) (2011 stats)
- Mental health professionals and physicians (49%) (2011 stats)
- Circuit courts (2%) (2011 stats)
Criteria for involuntary exam are that the individual:
- Appears to have a mental illness
- Presents a danger to self or others
- Refuses voluntary exam or is unable to understand need for exam
AT the NAMI Charlotte County meeting, I did not get a head count. I did help bring chairs over from the break room and in my mind’s eyes I can see about 32 people including the 3 panel members.
This was a special meeting for NAMI Charlotte County. Special in the way that we had the big three providers at one locations for a fledgling group. Still, the topic matter is serious and many times very personal. All the more reason, NAMI Charlotte County, needs to be back here in the Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda.
Yes, at the meeting, no one was pulling any punches with topics FACT TEAM Member, and River Side Rep and Vickie D’Agostino answering what could be answered – and – we needed to remind ourselves a few times that this is a process. We talked about the Baker Act and its benefits. While there are people on both sides of the fence on the BACKER ACT: People living with mental health issues some times hate it and mothers and fathers sometimes feel it can be a blessing to get their child needed help. Others feel it lacks teeth to do the job. Still others are happy to avoid it all together and just volunteer themselves for evaluation. Then there are the Court ordered Backer Act’s. (A complex topic for sure.)
Vickie D’Agostino said “some of our (CBHC’s) most effective mental health programs are actually court ordered, when they don’t want treatment.”
It was surprising for me to hear that a huge part of the Baker Act law that would HELP the most – OUT patient treatment – was never funded!
Moving on to CIT. DID you know? YOU can REQUEST a CIT trained officer when you need help? I am going to follow up on this and call the Charlotte Sheriff Department to talk to someone about this. I would like to see if there is a way to do some type of test of the department CIT response in handling a matter…something like a fire drill. The sheriffs receive 40 hours of CIT, but there is a HUGE difference between how it’s handle in a book and in a real life scenario.
I guess that is what the CIT training is for, I hear there is one coming up in November in Ft Myers.
Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador
Video Credits: NAMI Charlotte County Re-Cape Video Victoria D’Agostino, LMHC
Chief Operating Officer
Charlotte Behavioral Health Care Jesse Babcock III, LCSW,
Administrator of Riverside Behavioral Center. Mike
NAMI Charlotte County Video By Chato Stewart Consumer Peer Ambassador