Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Using AOT in Florida

Florida has an AOT law, but it’s rarely used outside of Seminole County. As a recent Miami Herald article shows, using AOT has been a great success for this county. Perhaps it’s time for others in Florida to do the same.

Fewer than 100 orders have been issued statewide, while thousands of people have been committed to mental hospitals. 'It's been hugely successful in Seminole County,'' said Sheriff Don Eslinger, who pushed for the law after one of his deputies was killed by a mentally ill man who wasn't taking his medication. "It's dramatically decreased homelessness, hospitalizations and violence in this population.''

Forty-four people have been committed to outpatient treatment at the Seminole County Mental Health Center, according to Dr. Valerie Westhead, the clinical director. "It's something that helps clients stay in their home community, prevents them from having to go to state hospital, and helps them to live their lives more the way they would like to live their lives.''