There's a Mental Health Crisis Among Florida's Kids | VICE News Special (HBO)

[Applause] we have some objectives here that you can go over with the therapist I'll read you the three of them and you can pick which two you like the best okay I will fight to ways how killing myself will affect my family and friends I'll name two things that make me feel like hurting myself all right I will identify two people I can talk to when I have thoughts of hurting myself the first is so you're here today because you made it go all right all the too many pink pills okay and time to overdose yeah okay do you feel like you have anybody you can talk to when you feel upset I just don't wanna burden and with it just know that you now you have a good support system around me okay and we're we're here to help you feel better and is this your first time you've been they've acted before yes the holes of GracePoint wellness and Tampa are full of young people in crisis in Florida anyone threatening to harm themselves or others can be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility for 72 hours under a law called the Baker Act invoking the Baker Act has become so common that it's now a verb it applies to all ages but more and more the people getting Baker acted are kids between 2011 and 2016 the number of minors committed under the Act rose by nearly 50% at least 10 kids come through GracePoint stores each day once the child arrives there are a lot of cost to the parent the nurse calls the parent to say your child has arrived there under Baker Act this is what we know this is what the process is you know do you have any information we need to know right away things like that the majority of children who come to grace coin here because they've expressed suicidal thoughts diagnosis range from depression and anxiety to mood and psychotic disorders here they're evaluated by a psychiatrist who prescribes medication as well as group therapy and one-on-one counseling you worry a lot about things and wearing those wearing work okay now you wait about medication how do you feel about that like the single every state in America allows some kind of involuntary commitment but long-term mental healthcare is unattainable for most people because it costs too much or just isn't available instead kids and distress have to rely on emergency short-term stays long enough to name their problems but not long enough to solve them the Baker Act serves as a crisis intervention but I mean do you think that kids are able to get access to the mental health care that they need across the county and across the state at the moment no there is a huge shortage of of child psychiatrists there is a huge shortage of therapists and that's probably why that we have so many Baker acts the Baker Act has been on the books since 1971 but it became a major topic last year after the Parkland massacre school counselors had tried to Baker Act the shooter Nicholas Cruz two years earlier but clinicians and law enforcement said he didn't meet the criteria after Parkland a lot of people said that Nicholas Cruz could have been stopped had he been Baker acted do you think that's true yeah yeah Baker acts are intended to stop things like that that's the point it's a it's a safety net for society when a child or an adult is acting in a way that puts themselves or others at risk of death if we can keep a kids from killing themselves then we made a difference if we can keep that kid from shooting up the school then I think we made a pretty big difference do you think that if there was more long-term health care if there was more preventative forms of therapists were available to kids then the Baker Act would dramatically decrease absolutely I think we would have less kids coming in and I think kids wouldn't have to stay as long because if we have more solid follow-up for these kids then they're going to do better until that happens families often have no choice but to use the law to unknot care I've done what I needed to do to keep myself safe for now but I don't know what I can do in my control later so now you have to build yourself up and become strong and you got 72 hours to do it exactly that's not enough time well I don't know what to tell you because that's the time you are allotted we'll work on it when it comes we don't have to figure it all out right because we have 72 hours to if we're gonna figure out a plan figure out a plan you can't figure out a plan in five minutes of okay I'm out of here have you thought of any plans have you come up with a solution yeah it wasn't fun it's a fear of the unknown not knowing where you're gonna go you're gonna give next what's gonna happen next yeah she doesn't have any answers to any questions she doesn't know where her heads at you know it's like okay so what are we doing do you feel like whacked was the right thing for Haley well yeah she's safe for 72 hours but what do we do after 72 hours as you insurance enough to cover the health care needs to it well it'll cover most of this I mean we have some out of pocket but but you know for a residential center it probably will only cover 50% and that's not cheap that's like $3,000 today where does that come from we reach the house for private care what an average stay at a long-term residential facility is a hundred and forty five days and that can cost more than $65,000 which most insurance plans don't cover a single night at GracePoint is seven hundred dollars and patients can see their stays extended beyond the mandated 72 hours if they're still considered a risk but there's no guaranteed that insurance pays for any of it statistics showed that many of the kids who do get discharged simply end up getting Baker acted again a lot of you guys been in here Chris Amon is a freshman in high school this is his second stay at Grace point I'm being around other people who maybe experienced similar things does that help when Chris was 14 he was Baker acted for the first time after trying to overdose on pills what I want you to do is to draw something it could be either a person a place or like a situation that causes significant anger in your life what did you write in the group therapy session I put people cutting to I hate to see others with cuts on themselves is that something you've experienced a lot of yeah and I've cut myself – why is it but you caught yourself whenever my inner emotions build up I can't control them so I research you a physical pain that I can control which is cutting what was it that brought you here um a suicide note that I wrote to a teacher so this is your second attempt what would have happened if you hadn't got be corrected they probably would have killed myself Friday night since you've been here what are some coping skills that you develop to distract thoughts of self-harm off you feel in distress what could you do for yourself and then who you could reach out and talk to I just need a minute in my room alone to listen to me is eager to think about what has happened to her and then I come and talk to you about it but the second parts important too right yeah okay sure as a parents but it was a tough couple days a lot of tears when he wasn't looking it's good to see him smiling with a sense of purpose what happened when well it's it I think any parent would be totally devastated heartbroken it was good to have an option because you want him saying you want to have help and this was the option Baker Act some more common during the school year and it's usually school staff who are the first to flag a troubled student in Chris's case his school guidance counselor mr. Shinda initiated his second Baker Act call and has helped monitor his progress since then what was behind your decision to Baker Act Chris after speaking with his teacher in reading some things he wrote and talking to him I believe that he was a suicidal rescue can you walk us through what happened that day the art teacher she called me in and she pulled out a letter that he wrote to her about upset he was he talked specifically about hurt himself about suicide called christen and he did explain to me that he was serious about it at that point we reached out to law enforcement to go ahead and start the Baker Act most mental health emergencies end up getting handled by police officers dispatched by 911s year there have been more than 3,000 mental health calls to Sheriff and police in Hillsborough County alone more than 400 of those calls resulted in a juvenile Baker Act you don't know that you're gonna be cracked somebody in round because basically all you've got is either information from a caretaker information from a concerned family member it'll often come from school and sometimes even friends a friend will call and say that they just saw that one of their friends posted something on Facebook whether they posted something on Twitter about them feeling down and I'm thinking about hurting themselves and in that case we'll respond right away have you noticed any change in the rate of kids being big rounded me personally yeah I do see a steady increase in juveniles so for the complainant says her son needs three Baker acted and in signal 20 being combative not taking medication 26:51 thank you is this guy being bankrupted before it seems as though yeah immigrant a history on the address and it shows multiple Baker acts in the past she said well the doctor said he needs to be Baker acted I said then his doctor recognizing his history and being familiar with him can do the big wreck however I was showing up based on what we see it's not weather law enforcement should be the first responders to mental health goals has been up for debate nationwide in Hillsborough County the need is so great that the Sheriff's Office established a program offering deputies 40 hours of initial training on how to handle these kinds of calls do you feel like law enforcement are the right people to be on the front line of this mental health care crisis absolutely not we we shouldn't be a part of it we're not clinical professionals we're not doctors oh we can't diagnose and fix what's going on with that kid must be incredibly difficult situation to know how to handle in that moment I mean obviously it's a high-risk scenario which is why you guys have been called out but on top of that I mean these kids must be going through real trauma and a real moment of crisis in their lives absolutely it's it's terrifying it's terrifying for the family and the child yeah you're ever law enforcement officer there with a gun and a Taser and they don't know what's going to happen we've got a female how old who has tried to hurt herself in the past we just got a call from one of the parents stating that she had a knife and she was trying to cut herself so probably a big knife no answer the door to Guangzhou what we got we're gonna do it it she's admitted to me that she took four xanax and then she locked herself in about them and started to attempt to cut herself the statements that she made during my interaction with her was that if a family didn't care about her and if nobody else was gonna care about her than why she should care about herself and what was gonna happen and if she no longer wanted to live so all that taken into consideration that's more than sufficient to meet the criteria for the background it's it's sad you know it's that I have kids you get to situations and you get the calls where you you know they either resemble your children or they're the same age you know you get there and you can't undo 16 or 17 years in 15 minutes 911 what is your emergency I need an officer down here a came I I don't know the address okay what's going on there hello hi this is dr. 66 with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office how are you yes we received a call from your son we're going out to meet with him at the show on big guns and Kings cuz he called us to ask for a ride home okay I'm on my way okay perfect thank you he was happy ten miles from home six o'clock sunset almost four days after we filmed Chris leaving GracePoint he was Baker acted again for the third time it wasn't expected you know I was trying to decide what would have dinner and relax and find yourself heading to meet a county sheriff's officer to discussive mental state of your son I arrived and he was sitting in the back of the sheriff's car for his own safety they they handcuffed him so he wouldn't hurt himself and it was hard he was pale white didn't want to look at me didn't want to answer didn't want to talk he was pretty distraught in order to solve these equations by factoring it's kind of hard to live and see the positive side of stuff like I'll just go to school put on a mask pretend I'm happy and I'm okay so people don't really ask me what's wrong is kind of hard to answer that question when everything is wrong so I pretend that I'm happy tell people I'm okay but inside of times What's it feel like inside it's pretty hard to UM even cope with everything are you on meds yeah the lithium's helped with the prozac and we hope like there's always something deeper aids I then just you take medicine you feel better like even after that there's gonna be difficulties is it frustrating to you the they keep be crafting you for a few days and then you keep getting released and then you have to get back there again yeah it's kind of frustrating like they're not realizing that it's not gonna help if it's three days or a week I need longer to it I'll get home residential is usually better for people who have depression and you who've been there more than three times and you've even said that they'd rather have rather than true I'm gonna get help bird the pain that I'm feeling inside with depression it's like putting a cast over scar it's only gonna hide it it's always gonna be there it's never gonna leave it sounds like from what Chris is saying what he needs and what he's desperately asking for is residential care why is it do you think that that's not happening I I don't know that that's the best for him the doctors didn't seem to think that that was what he needed in Chris I don't think fully he's 16 years old I don't think he understands that it may go back to his you know or anyway you know run away from his problems and he needs you know the right support we're gonna find it knowledge is power especially if you use it so I want you to feel comfortable working with me but above all know what this is all about after being Baker acted three times and identified as high-risk Chris qualified for Grosse Pointe Community Action Team a cost-free program where therapists and case managers make home visits and provide support for six to nine months the goal is to keep kids home and out of long-term residential facilities the most important part of the program Chris is it will always revolve around you and your family so let me ask you this the father is involved now no not really we've been separated a very long time since it was six Chris was just a baby okay so thank you so you have no friends all your friends are like invisible or virtual okay what are you expectations of this you've got this team how do you think we can help you I don't really know probably a good therapist and people who I could relate to the main goal is to keep you safe okay so we have an officer to pivot order data control student who was any assistance where if he was hitting objects harming you know achieving harm assault and things like that and it's a child a month after returning to school Chris was Baker acted for a fourth time Chris came to us and he was really concerned about a friend if he felt was being harmed at home he became really agitated that day and during his agitation he punched a wall um he had pepper spray on him so that was a 10-day suspension unfortunately that was that day that he got his fourth Baker Act while he was on suspension right before he was supposed to come back to school he had posted some pictures on snapchat one was of a brown handgun sitting on a bed and so kids were very concerned to start it to their parents some kids responded to him and said hey are you gonna bring this to school and his response was only if I have to we had 160 kids not come to school look that day around the same time that he posted the snapshot which he later said showed a fake gun Chris knock into a neighbor's house and stole a real one he had six different charges attempted burglary of an occupied dwelling grand theft to third degree attempted burglary of occupied structure burglary of a dwelling firearm grand theft firearm Brent the third degree grand theft from a dwelling minor possession of a firearm you know my concern is is he gonna be the next school sugar I have students in this building that I am my job to protect Chris was arrested spent 21 days in juvenile detention and later expelled from school he gave me five Chris told us he never intended to harm anyone he's now at home where he's enrolled in online classes and waiting for his next court hearing in June you hopeful for results that's actually an improvement path that he can follow first of life in America for a little for a little for a little no any news or Mary just froze I just don't feel good anybody who's the parent feels whatever pain their child feels pure taunted pain you are it's kind of beaten I don't think any parent ever wants to go through it seeing their child suffering and there's nothing you can do you know you know you can do is pray for a good resolution you know good care so that he can make it through that you you


  1. This VICE News Tonight special report, delves into the experiences of three families in crisis, each struggling with a child's mental illness, whose lives intersect for 72 hours at Gracepoint Wellness, one of the largest and oldest children's crisis facilities in Florida.
    WATCH NEXT: The Farmer Fighting Rural America's Mental Health Crisis –

  2. 13:35 Not only are police officers not professionals, they are specifically recruited as police officers BECAUSE they are not bright people.

  3. Thanks for this vice! It’s more than just “guns”

  4. "Baker"? How about "catch and release"?

  5. Name a human who gives a shit. In our society, suicide is not a problem, it is a solution.

  6. Yeah this is most genz people but they dont let people see.

  7. Smh I remember being in high school in FL after I transferred from NY. hearing kids say Baker acted in ways that made it seem like they were take away and tortured and talk about being sick cause of meds. I even thought they were say vaporacted at one point for some reason it's all too normal over here for kids who "act out" to get Baker acted. Glad this is getting out

  8. I can't believe those parents(around the 5:30 mark) were asking their crying, stressed out, in crisis child if SHE had come up with any plans. Really? I'm in danger of hurting myself, I am far from stable enough to think clearly and you want ME to figure it out? Who is the parent here?!

    I know parents are usually doing the best that they can, but certainly part of the problem besides a lack of long term care for the child, is assistance and education/training for the parents of these youth in crisis that gives them real tools to help themeslves and their child.

    I am not completely unfamilair with this scenario. I live in Florida and my nephew has suffered from paranoid schizoprenia for almost 20 years now starting in his late teens. He has been baker acted over and over, arrested over and over, hospitalized over and over, all while long term quality and affordable care has been on par with the hope of winning the lottery.

  9. How about you teach them about Jesus and not give them prescription drugs

  10. taking away freedom to stop somthing you cant

  11. Florida is a mental health crisis.

  12. The current psychological mental health industry is inherently flawed. For so many reasons.
    People are having major problems coping with thr world around them, something they have no control of and we blame them. Well, you need to figure out how to deal with it! You are the cause of your bad thoughts. It's your fault you don't know how to manage stressors you have no control of.
    There's also the fact that we think of mental illness as a issue wholly due to how one thinks. Maladaptive thinking. When mental health most definitely has a biological/genetic component and relies heavily on the environment we live in.
    Medications and talk therapy aren't enough. They mask symptoms and blame the person for their mental response to stress.
    We need to change everything from the root up.
    And I fear that isn't enough. In this ever changing world, humans as a whole are not equipped to deal with all of these flashy things. We have made a world incompatible to ourselves.

  13. im in FL and when i was in a facility like this most of the kids were baker acted i was one of the few voluntary ones there, but i won't ever forget the younger ones. this 7 year old boy and a 6 year old girl there, couldn't imagine being so young and so lost. i hope they're doing alright now.

  14. It’s not just among children, it’s all ages

  15. I’ve been gracepoint before, scariest time of my life.

  16. Kids: this is what I need
    Parents & doctors: you don’t know what you need

  17. give this kids some mdma xtc, and then tell them to write down the happines and grace they feel when on it. for real, it can change the whole perspective on life

  18. The result of drugs AND ritual abuse!!

  19. Again, just diminishing a child's needs and statements because of their age. I think that's bullshit. At any age, a human being knows what they need at that time. It all boils down to money. Mom doesn't want to spend the money for a good health facility.

  20. Do they not Fing get it? He wants to be away from home, where his problems lie, he wants to have real friends too. Someone to talk to, someone that will listen to him. He wants attention, and he wants control over his life so he does the dramatic things. I think that the poor kid needs to go somewhere else, with someone trusted, and they can just talk. No medication not much of anything. He needs to get away to a place where he can feel himself.

  21. These kids need long term therapy. It should be covered by insurance. How can these kids ever get better if they don't get professional long term help?

  22. wow really? I didn't notice with all the mass shootings, black kids getting shot for walking in a white neigborhood and the shooter getting off, children being killed and put in car trunks and the parents saying "I didn't know she was their" 2 weeks later and getting off, and innocent people going to jail for life. Its just another day of "life" in Flordia… If you really want to fix the fucking problem, STOP BUYING INTO FUCKING PRIVATE, FOR PROFIT FOR ANYTHING!!!!

  23. Between social media and it's stressful content that kids are so addicted to now and a parent like this guy is a combination for a really bad ending. Social media was to be used for entertainment and useful for information but its taken a turn and kids who already have issues regardless of how minor, just cant handle its strong content are just unprepared having it in their lives.

  24. Off the top of my head (at 5:45) My plan is to smack that kid's mom in the head, pour some acid on dad, grab the kid by the hand, and… Yeah, that's not really a plan. My excuse is: I have seen a lot of shit parents like that — with and without children — who's initial response to a crisis is, repeatedly, to either overreact like the father, and move things in a hurry — which is really ineffective in the long term, especially with someone as young as his daughter — or they make some giant surrender to circumstance and then don't even take advantage of something like 72 hours to orient themselves, like the mother.

    Man do people fucking suck sometimes.

  25. theres a mental health crisis among vices writers

  26. There's a mental health crisis…
    Me: No there isn't. Murica has the best healthcare!
    …among Florida's kids.
    Me: No comment! I don't even know what a Florida is. What's a kid?

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