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Mental health funding cut by millions in Fla.

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Updated: 12/18/2012 5:29 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Mental health funding was cut by millions over the past few years in Florida.

There is a new debate over whether Adam Lanza's reported diagnosis of having Asperger's played a role. Erin Richman, a psychologist with FSCJ, doesn't think so. "That's probably not the driving force behind this. It's probably something else yet to come out," said Richman.

Richman thinks there may be some other kind of mental illness and this tragic shooting could've been a sign of something bigger. "The first episode is usually between 18 and 21. He's right in the range that this may seem to happen. He could be undiagnosed," said Richman.

But even with a mental diagnosis, some fear an attack might still be possible because state programs across the country took big hits. According to a 2011 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, states slashed $1.6 billion from mental health programs between 2009 and 2011.

Here in Florida, Action News has learned $12 million was cut just this year.

Christina St. Clair is the vice president of Substance Abuse and Mental Health with Lutheran Health Services. She says jobs were cut and services were affected. "A lot has fallen by the wayside because they can only fund so much when you have to balance the budget," said St. Clair. "We desperately need more funding in Florida."

Also according to the NAMI report, Florida received a C on its mental health system in 2006. It dropped to a D in 2011.

If you know someone you think needs any kind of mental help, you can call 1-877-229-9098. It's open Monday through Friday, but will be 24 hours, 7 days a week after January 1st.

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