Substance Abuse & Mental Health
Office of the Assistant Secretary for
Substance Abuse And Mental Health
On behalf of the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, welcome to the Department’s new website. The mission of the Department’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program is to “Advance Individual and Family Recovery and Resiliency.” We are committed to helping children and adults with substance abuse and/or mental illnesses with their recovery journey.
The 2003 President’s New Freedom Commission Report: Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America was ground-breaking in its emphasis on the promise of recovery. The Federal Action Agenda 2005 raised the bar to a new level. It offered that mental illnesses and emotional disturbances are treatable and that recovery should be the expectation. It provided that in a transformed mental health system consumers must have real and meaningful choices about their treatment options and providers, and care must focus on increasing individuals’ abilities to cope with life’s challenges, on building resilience, and on facilitating recovery.
When I became Assistant Secretary on December 1st having a statewide consumer conference was one of my top priorities. I’m thrilled we were able to accomplish this one so quickly. The Department partnered with NAMI Florida and in March 2010 held Florida’s first statewide mental health consumer conference. The conference was a great success!! It opened up the dialogue between consumers and the Department. It is very empowering when individuals who receive services are able to express their opinions about what is working and what’s not. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference!
I am pleased to tell you about some of our accomplishments, and invite you to celebrate with us. Two of our three state operated mental health treatment facilities have obtained accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) – Florida State Hospital and Northeast Florida State Hospital. In addition the Florida Civil Commitment Center operated by The GEO Group, Inc. also received accreditation by CARF. We have developed a certification process for Peer Specialists, and have already certified over 1,200 individuals as Certified Peer Specialists. We have advanced integration of services for individuals with co-occurring disorders - those who have both substance abuse and mental health needs.
One of the Secretary’s major priorities is for the Department to fully engage managing entities (ME’s). These are centralized management structures designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the services we provide. Our website contains information about ME’s, as well as other major priorities. We are working to enhance our integration of services for children and families involved in the child welfare system who need behavioral health services and we’re building a Comprehensive, Continuous and Integrated System of Care (CCISC) for individuals to receive integrated services for treatment when they have both substance abuse and mental health needs.
On a personal level, I am an optimist – If we believe we can get it done and aim our individual & collective efforts in the right direction and imagine the possibilities, great things will happen! I am a true believer in recovery. Individuals with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders need access to evidence-based treatments, including medications. However, all of us need the same things to be successful in our community – to live in safe, decent, affordable housing, opportunities to learn and/or work, and ways to socialize with family and friends.
I know each of you who have taken to time to read this message care deeply about our mission: “Advancing Recovery and Resiliency.” Thank you for your advocacy and your service. Together we WILL help individuals with substance abuse and/or mental health needs and their families to live, learn, work and participate fully in their community.
David A. Sofferin
Assistant Secretary for
Substance Abuse and Mental Health