Mental health experts discuss changes to Baker, Marchman Acts

In Hillsborough County, Florida, there have been significant updates to the Baker Act and Marksman Act, legal processes for addressing individuals dealing with mental health issues or substance abuse. These changes aim to provide more flexibility in involuntary evaluations and better meet treatment needs.

The Baker Act now pertains to mental health, and the Marksman Act to substance abuse. One of the key changes is giving law enforcement officers more authority to request Baker or Marksman Acts when they deem it necessary. This change is intended to empower law enforcement to intervene when needed, even though it is not their primary role.

Natasha A. Pierre, who deals with her own mental health struggles and educates others on coping strategies, supports these changes, stating that mental health discussions and funding allocations are always beneficial given the increasing prevalence of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

Roaya Tyson, CEO of Tampa’s Gracepoint Wellness, emphasizes that streamlining the Baker and Marksman Act processes is crucial. Previously, practitioners could only access information from the person during the initial evaluation, which sometimes allowed them to present themselves more coherently. Now, they can gather collateral information from family members and friends to better understand the individual’s disturbing behaviors.

While these changes are seen as a step forward, experts agree that there is still much work to be done in addressing mental health issues. The new legislation also allocates $50 million toward services for individuals after they are released from care, signifying a continued commitment to supporting those in need.

.st1{display:none}See more