About the Institute

Executive Director

Mary Armstrong

For over forty years, the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI) has been a driving force in improving services for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. Its mission is accomplished through research and evaluation, policy advice, training, and technical assistance. FMHI Affiliates work closely with state agencies, community partners, professionals and consumers to strengthen the system of care for individuals of all ages who experience behavioral health challenges and to provide support for their families. Research topics include mental illness, substance abuse, health care financing, disability law, juvenile justice, involuntary commitment, child abuse, and other pressing social issues.

The production of the Annual Report offers an opportunity to reflect on the Institute's accomplishments during 2016. Much of FMHI's success was achieved through the evaluation and research projects of the more than 50 FMHI Affiliate Faculty highlighted later in the report. In addition, the Institute continued its long tradition of training, technical assistance, policy and advocacy, and stakeholder engagement. Here are some highlights from 2016.

Education and Training

FMHI established the Summer Research Institute (SRI) as a research experience for undergraduates who are interested in behavioral health services research. Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the 2016 SRI scholars included 11 students; 4 students from USF and 7 students from other colleges and universities across the country.

The SRI@FMHI provides an intensive 10-week research experience for student scholars interested in conducting research and helps them to prepare for graduate or professional education. Each scholar was matched with a faculty mentor with whom he or she conducted a research study. In addition, scholars participated in a variety of activities coordinated by the SRI core faculty: a seminar series on research design and methods; a pro-seminar series on ethics, graduate school application processes and funding; publications; a skills workshop series; and a broad array of community field experiences.

In addition, the 2016 SRI@FMHI provided a summer program for six high school students who were interested in pursuing behavioral health careers with a research emphasis. Participants were all members of the USF Upward Bound or CROP programs that serve future first-generation-in-college students. In addition to exposure to the research process, students completed training in Mental Health First Aid.

Policy and Advocacy

In September 2016, the Governor of Florida issued Executive Order 15-175. The order called for a comprehensive review of local, state, and federally funded behavioral health services and an analysis of how those services are delivered and how well they are integrated with other services within a community. The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) asked FMHI to conduct this review. The review incorporated analysis of information from two data sources: 1) administrative data on local, state, and federally funded behavioral health services used by adults with serious mental health problems and children and youth with serious emotional disturbances in Alachua, Pinellas, and Broward counties; and 2) a random sample of case file reviews analyzing how the target populations in those counties move through the local systems of care. The report included a number of policy recommendations, many of which DCF and the local counties have implemented.

Stakeholder Engagement

FMHI spearheads an annual fall community colloquium where community leaders, providers, citizens, and university faculty and students can convene and hold a dialogue on key pressing state and national issues. The program includes
brief introductions by community providers, and presentations by a panel of national and local experts followed by questions from the audience. The 2016 colloquium was held at the University Area Community Development Corporation
and focused on the Effects of Incarceration on Offenders, Families, and Communities. Speakers were Marc Mauer, one of the country's leading experts on sentencing policy, race, and justice who is the Executive Director of The Sentencing
Project in Washington D.C.; Jamie Fader from Temple University, whose research interests are in urban social inequality
and crime, and desistance and prisoner reentry; Chris Simmons from USF School of Social Work whose expertise focuses on populations in maximum-security prisons, and Carla Stover, from USF Department of Mental Health, Law & Policy, who has extensive clinical experience with families impacted by trauma as well as collaboration between police and mental health professionals. Over 235 people attended the 2016 community colloquium.

The mission of FMHI will continue through the research and evaluation studies of its Affiliates on behalf of individuals with mental health and substance abuse challenges, and through the training, technical assistance, policy formation, and stakeholder engagement of the Institute. I look forward to an exciting future for the Institute!