Mental Illness

The Baker Act and Mental Health Court in Sarasota

130804 mental health court

Prior to 1971, the laws in Florida regarding due process and civil rights of persons in mental health facilities – which dated back to 1874 – were in a sorry state of affairs.  With signed affidavits by three laymen and the approval of a county judge, you could be committed to a mental health hospital.  There was no specific period of commitment before a person’s confinement would be reconsidered by a judge. The standards were so lax that, reportedly, the crony of a local judge would periodically have his wife committed so he could carry on a dalliance with another woman. 

All this ended in 1971 due to the work of Florida state representative Maxine Baker, who spearheaded the passage of the Florida Mental Health Act. Referring to the treatment of persons with mental illness before the passage of her bill, Representative Baker stated, “In the name of mental health, we deprive them of their most precious possession – liberty.”   The Baker Act, as it would come to be known, prohibited the indiscriminate admission of persons to state institutions or the retention of persons without just cause.  The law also prohibited the placement of persons with mental illnesses in jails, unless they had committed criminal acts.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Learn More

Advances in Treatment of Depression

I was born in 1955, as the Dark Ages of mental health treatment in the 20th Century was coming to an end.  There were 600,000 mentally ill people – 356 per 100,000 – more or less permanently hospitalized in public or private asylums.  Those ravaged by severe and persistent mental illness couldn’t walk the streets without being victimized, being arrested…

Learn More

What is Depression?

Everybody gets the blues.  When the dog dies, you lose a job or a boyfriend, a check bounces, the roof leaks, you get sick, your team loses – you feel down, sad and empty.   In a relatively short time though, you bounce back.  You get better because the circumstance changes, you take some action or your feelings just go away.…

Learn More