Tallahassee, Fla. – Yesterday, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the establishment of Hope for Healing Florida, a new multi-agency mental health and substance abuse campaign. This coordinated effort will incorporate the combined resources of the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the Florida Department of Education to better serve the needs of Floridians struggling with mental health and substance abuse.

Below is what state officials and stakeholders are saying about the First Lady’s initiative:

“One in five adults will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their lives, but because of overwhelming stigma, less than half will ever get help. No one should have to suffer in silence, and I am proud to stand alongside First Lady Casey DeSantis as she launches the Hope for Healing initiative to make sure all Floridians, regardless of age, location, or socioeconomic status, are able to get the help they need to lead healthy, productive, fulfilled lives,” said Senator Lauren Book.

“Anything that brings knowledge, awareness and information about how to access resources for those suffering from anxiety, depression or mental illness is an excellent thing. I congratulate First Lady DeSantis for taking charge on this initiative and for her leadership on this very important issue,” said Senator Darryl Rouson.

“I applaud the First Lady for her dedication to helping children and families who need behavioral health and support. Having an easily-accessible resource to identify services will make a difference in the lives of Floridians,” said Representative Travis Cummings.

“My family — like so many families across Florida — has experienced the heartbreak of losing someone to substance abuse and mental illness, so I am grateful for the Hope for Healing initiative. It will have a positive impact on Florida’s children and families. The First Lady is truly making a difference by bringing partners together to develop comprehensive resources for behavioral health services across the state,” said Representative Jennifer Webb.

“I commend the First Lady and Governor for bringing state agencies together to develop a unified guide for the public, engaging the private sector, and initiating meaningful change to the system of care. There is power in partnership, and Hope for Healing is a much-needed resource for families across the state to find the help they need,” said Representative Mel Ponder. 

“I fully support First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Hope for Healing initiative, which I believe will save lives. Mental illness is real, and we must continue to work to increase awareness and lose the stigma surrounding mental health. This is the right time for this easy-to-use, comprehensive tool for Floridians to get the help they need,” said Representative Dianne Hart.

“Bringing state agencies and the private sector together to create this important resource is an outstanding initiative by the First Lady. A simple tool to find the help you need will go a long way in helping to increase access to treatment and prevent crisis situations,” said Representative Cyndi Stevenson.

“The statistics surrounding mental health illuminate the need for greater coordination between state agencies and a more straight-forward approach to connecting Floridians with the services they need. I applaud Governor and First Lady DeSantis for leading the charge, and I am committed to working with Commissioner Corcoran to ensure the State Board of Education take the appropriate steps to ensure Florida’s students have access to mental health resources,” said Marva Johnson, State Board of Education Chair.  

“Our top priority is providing youth mental health awareness and training to all school personnel in Florida schools. We are thrilled about the Hope for Healing initiative and its goal to raise awareness about the warning signs of mental illness and the availability of treatment in Florida communities,” said Nikki Zenn, Multiagency Network for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities (SEDNET) Director.

“The Florida Association of School Psychologist’s mission is to promote and advocate for the mental health and educational development of Florida’s youth, and the Hope for Healing initiative aligns perfectly. School psychologists are integral to the school community, and they play a pivotal role in students’ success. On behalf of Florida’s school psychologists, I thank First Lady DeSantis and Governor DeSantis for shedding a light on this critical issue,” said Nicholas Cutro, Florida Association of School Psychologists President.

“No Floridian should feel alone when struggling to cope with mental illness. There have been great medical advancements in this area, but recognizing the potential for recovery can be difficult once mental illness takes its grasp. That’s why we must look out for one another and share available resources far and wide. I applaud First Lady Casey DeSantis for her commitment to this very important issue,” said Melanie Brown-Woofter, President and CEO of the Florida Council for Community Mental Health.

“School counselors are vital members of the education team who support students in every aspect of their lives to ensure they become productive, well-adjusted adults. They spend most of their time working directly with students, and they see firsthand the need for a greater focus on mental health. We offer our wholehearted support to Governor and First Lady DeSantis, and we look forward to working together to address mental health in Florida schools,” said Elizabeth Villares, Florida School Counselor Association Chair.

The Hope for Healing Florida campaign will leverage, in part, the resources of private sector partners to produce and distribute Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource Guides throughout the state at no cost to taxpayers. Guides will include information on state partnered programs from crisis intervention to prevention, to on-going care to help support children and families suffering in Florida by providing meaningful help in a timely fashion that meets their needs.

For more information, please visit www.HopeforHealingFL.com.



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