JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Books on budget building and fundraising now fill the shelves at Denise Marzullo’s office.
"We’re in a desperate situation,” said Marzullo, “and most people do not realize the situation that Northeast Florida is in."
Marzullo runs Mental Health America of Northeast Florida. She says we are the lowest-funded area in the second-lowest-funded state in the nation for mental health.
Many, like Marzullo, were hoping that would soon change after the national attention mental health issues received after the Sandy Hook shooting. But Gov. Rick Scott recently released his budget and mental health funding in Florida is staying stagnant.
Despite an increase this fiscal year of $4 billion to the budget, mental health got the same sized slice of pie: $1.3 billion. That is less than 2 percent of the entire $74.2 billion budget.
The budget for all of Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties is about $15 million.
"I've heard comments where people are saying well he didn't decrease it, but that's not enough. That's not enough for us,” said Marzullo.
She fears if it doesn’t change soon, communities statewide are bound to suffer.
"Increased homelessness, economic problems, family problems, divorce - all kinds of different circumstances come from inadequate treatment,” said Marzullo. “I just don't understand why that's not seen as such a priority."
Action News reached out to the governor’s office to find out why mental health funding did not see a boost this year. They responded to our question with this statement:
“Governor Scott believes funding mental health is important, that is why he maintained current funding in his recommended budget.”