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NWF teams with GCSO Sheriff Morris Young

NWF Health Network recognized Sheriff Morris Young and the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office for their role in reducing the number of Baker Acts across the region by 15%.

In the wake of the 2018 Parkland shooting, Florida lawmakers passed a comprehensive new law to promote safety, prevent trauma, and intervene with youth and adults in crisis. Specifically, Mobile Response Teams (MRT’s) are required to be on-site within 60 minutes to connect those in crisis with alternatives to inpatient psychiatric treatment. The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, under agreement with NWF Health, agreed to be the bridge between persons in crisis and the Apalachee Center MRT team. These teams provide emergency behavioral health assessments and begin immediate on-site treatment. Since its inception more than 90% of the mobile responses were successful in avoiding the need for a “Baker Act”. This would not be possible in rural counties without the aid of the sheriff’s office.

“Our sheriffs are critical in making this mission successful,” said Mike Watkins, CEO of NWF Health. “Sheriff Young understands public safety and he values getting people the help they need quickly.”

“As the Sheriff of Gadsden County, I have prioritized identifying resources better to aid our youth in crisis and persons with mental health issues,” said Sheriff Morris Young. “Our partnership with NWF Health Network addresses both and has proven to be an invaluable resource. Mike Watkins and his team are to be commended for their commitment to service in Gadsden County and I want to personally thank them!”

In the northwest Florida region – the 18 counties from Escambia to Madison – we have seen a net reduction of 15% in Baker Acts (even while our population increased nearly 5%). Perhaps most impressively, in our region, more than 10,000 children have been seen by MRT’s and 90% of the responses did not result in inpatient treatment.