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On December 19, Florida Senator Joseph Abruzzo, (Dem, D 25) and staff welcomed members of the Palm Beach County Action Alliance for Mental Health in his Wellington office. He assured the delegation of eight mental health service providers and advocates he would continue to give full attention to addressing the community’s serious mental health problems.

The Senator is a member of the Finance and Tax Committee and is Vice Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. He cited his work with the Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs to improve the operational effectiveness of the Baker Act and explained his sponsorship of SB 156 creating the Florida Competitive Workforce Act which revises provisions to include sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Rita Thrasher, CEO of Boca Raton’s Promise, Chair of the PBC Action Alliance for Mental Health and long time mental health advocate, advised The Senator of several Alliance initiatives underway. He expressed intent to participate in an upcoming Mental Health First Aid training and agreed to have representation at the January 16th meeting of the Action Alliance and several additional educational events on mental health.

A priority on the Senator’s list is to implement in the next two years Broward Judge Steven Leifman’s very successful disease model of preventing incarceration of people with a serious mental illness through Crisis Intervention Team policing. It would also direct defendants to treatment and care rather than jail.

When asked how Alliance members and advocates could best assist in
mental health related legislation he stated, ”If needed, a bus load of advocates coming to Tallahassee would be terrific. Also, don’t under estimate the importance of letter writing campaigns. Those letters do get read.”


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Alliance members pictured here with Senator Joeseph Abruzzo include:

Rita Thrasher, Pamela Hart Frazier, Poppi Mercier, Ed Frontera,

Ben Frazier, Gerda Klein,

Dr. Seth Bernstein, and

Dr. Stephanie Lippman. 

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