The Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery will provide a comprehensive system of care for individuals with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders who frequently cycle through the criminal justice and other acute care treatment systems. Combined with programs of research and education, the Center will serve as a model for facilities of this type throughout the nation. The Center will develop and disseminate best practice standards in clinical care, training, education, implementation science and evaluation, and community outreach and advocacy to build a healthier, more compassionate, and fiscally responsible Miami-Dade County.
Access to effective, community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment is extremely limited for many Florida residents. The state ranks 43rd nationally in access to mental health care, has the 4th highest rate of adults with mental illnesses who are uninsured, and at $39.55 per capita, ranks 49th among all states and the District of Columbia in spending for community-based treatment.
As a result, police and jails are increasingly the first and only responders to people in crisis due to untreated mental illnesses. In fact, the Miami-Dade County Jail now serves as the largest psychiatric institution in Florida, containing as many beds for people with mental illnesses as all state civil and forensic mental health treatment facilities combined.
The county spends $636,000 per day – or $232 million per year – to house an average daily population of 2,400 individuals with mental illnesses. By contrast, the state spends just $47.3 million annually to provide community-based mental health services to about 34,000 people in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, while another 70,000 people in need receive no treatment at all.
Put another way, $100,000 annually in taxpayer dollars are spent for each person with a mental illness in jail, but only $1,400 for each person who manages to access care in the community. Two-thirds of those in need receive no treatment at all.
This problem is caused because there is no capacity anywhere in the United States to adequately serve individuals who experience the most severe and persistent forms of mental illnesses. In addition, there remains significant fragmentation and lack of communication across the healthcare system, as well as poor integration of behavioral health and primary care services.
Miami-Dade County has been working with the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project and stakeholders from across the community to plan and develop a first-of-its-kind mental health diversion and treatment facility for individuals with serious mental illnesses involved in or at risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system.
The Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery will operate from a fully renovated facility designed to house services that are difficult to access or unavailable elsewhere in the community. The building will include a central receiving center, an integrated crisis stabilization unit and addiction receiving facility, various levels of residential treatment, transitional housing, day treatment and day activity programs, outpatient behavioral health and primary care, dental and optometry services, vocational rehabilitation and employment services, classrooms and educational spaces, post-treatment housing assistance, a courtroom, and space for legal and social service agencies.
By housing a comprehensive array of services and supports in one location, and providing re-entry assistance upon discharge, many of the barriers to navigating community mental health and social services will be eliminated. The services planned for the facility will address critical treatment needs that have gone unmet in the past and reduce the likelihood of recidivism to the justice system, crisis settings, and homelessness in the future.
TREATMENT WORKS: It’s time to start treating mental illnesses as illnesses and not crimes.
The Miami Foundation for Mental Health is the philanthropic arm of the Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery.
Paul Steven Singerman is Co-chair of Berger Singerman LLP and concentrates his practice in troubled loan workouts, insolvency matters and commercial transactions, bankruptcy-related litigation, complex litigation, corporate governance and distressed business merger and acquisitions. Paul is active throughout the United States in large and complex restructuring, insolvency and bankruptcy cases. His work in many cases has garnered the widespread respect of his peers.
President & Secretary
Judge Jeri Beth Cohen is a retired circuit judge. She presided from 1993-2020 in the in the Dependency and Criminal Drug Court Divisions in Miami-Dade County, Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree at Boston University, her Master of Arts degree at Harvard University, and her Juris Doctorate at Georgetown Law. Judge Cohen has used her experience in the areas of substance abuse, mental health, early childhood development and trauma to create an innovative approach to the treatment of addiction.
Pat Morris is a recognized non-profit and community leader with more than thirty plus years’ experience in both worlds. He is often called on to speak with companies about their Corporate Social Responsibility. He is a trusted advisor to many non-profit CEO’s in South Florida. Pat recently accepted a new position as the Director of Civic and Philanthropic Partnerships for Miami- Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Miami-raised and Havana born, Alicia Cervera Lamadrid grew up surrounded by real estate. Cervera Lamadrid joined her mother’s firm in the early 1980s and rose through the ranks making her mark with luxury condos in the up-and-coming Brickell Avenue. To date, the Cervera name has listed more than 115 luxury high-rise condominiums throughout South Florida totaling $16 billion in sales. Cervera Lamadrid currently oversees more than $4.5 billion of real estate sales in pre-construction and general real estate. Committed to supporting positive change in South Florida, Cervera Lamadrid serves on boards for various civic, community, and professional organizations including the University of Miami, Downtown Development Authority, and the Miami Foundation for Mental Health.
John W. Dow is a consultant and executive administrator with over 50 years of experience in research and delivery of healthcare and social services. As founder and former President and CEO of the South Florida Behavioral Health Network, Inc., a private, not-for-profit corporation, John was responsible for administering all state and federal funding for indigent behavioral health care in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. In addition to his work overseeing the safety-net system of care, John has also been employed in a variety of academic and government settings across his career.