Treasure Island, Fla. (October 14, 2016) – Rep. Kathleen Peters (FL-69) has been honored for her work on behalf of those suffering from mental illness with awards from two major Pinellas County service providers, the Suncoast Center, Inc. and Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services (PEMHS).
In the 2016 legislative session, Peters spearheaded mental health reform efforts, ultimately giving more people access to the mental health system regardless of what path takes them to treatment.
“Thanks to Kathleen, Florida will now have a seamless process for those who need to be evaluated and directed to treatment,” said Barbara Daire, President of Suncoast Center, Inc. “Instead of getting stuck in court orders and bureaucratic red tape, organizations like the Suncoast Center can more quickly get people the help they need so they can get back to their daily lives.”
“While many reforms were achieved in 2016, Kathleen really was our champion,” said Jerry Wennlund, CEO of PEMHS. “Kathleen embodies what it means to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.”
Also reflecting Rep. Peters’ record of accomplishment in this area, she received the M.A. Bernstein Award for Mental Health Awareness from Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services. The Bernstein Award is given annually to a volunteer who has devoted her efforts to education, awareness and advocacy to improve the lives of those living with mental illness.
With Peters’ leadership, three key bills passed in the 2016 legislative session. Senate Bill 12 consolidated and revised the Baker and Marchman Acts, House Bill 769 permitted courts to dismiss some nonviolent offenses removing obstacles to rehabilitation and future employment, and Senate Bill 439 created Mental Health Courts to divert non-violent offenders to mental health receiving facilities instead of jails.