Tallahassee, Fla. – Yesterday, on behalf of Governor Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis toured sites in Northwest Florida and highlighted major announcements being implemented by state agencies and federal partners to assist Northwest Florida residents and provide mental health support services to communities impacted by the trauma of Hurricane Michael. During the visit, the First Lady highlighted that the Department of Children and Families will be installing Telehealth Portals for mental health services in all public schools in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin and Liberty Counties by the beginning of the school year.

Below is what state leaders and elected officials are saying about these important announcements:

“While the physical destruction from Hurricane Michael was devastating, the damage you cannot see is still prevalent in many communities that are working to recover,” said Representative Jay Trumbull. “First Lady Casey DeSantis has tackled the issue of mental health head on, and we cannot express how thankful we are for her and the Governor’s efforts. Yesterday’s visit was a critical step in our road to recovery and I look forward to continuing to work with the First Lady on ways we can help those impacted by Hurricane Michael fully heal.”

“I am so grateful for the First Lady’s unwavering commitment to the Panhandle following Hurricane Michael,” said Senator George Gainer. “While we have made enormous progress, this is a marathon not a sprint. First Lady Casey DeSantis has facilitated open, fluid communication to the people who can help address the hurdles we are facing in a number of areas, none more urgent than mental health. To have these agencies’ full attention is invaluable, and we have the First Lady to thank for that.”

“The devastation brought by Hurricane Michael was nothing short of catastrophic. Our most vulnerable students are still struggling to cope with the after-effects, and our teachers are on the front lines managing student trauma,” said Bay County Superintendent Bill Husfelt. “We have a great deal of work ahead of us and this initiative will help us begin to fill those mental health gaps. I’m proud to be working in collaboration with First Lady Casey DeSantis and the Department of Children and Families to help Bay County students and faculty recover. We sincerely appreciate all of the support we’ve received thus far but need so much more to ensure our community truly recovers.”

“Franklin County’s geographical location and sparse population limits access to mental health services,” said Franklin County Superintendent Traci Moses. “Our school district has worked diligently to secure mental health supports for our students and families. While our community experienced traumatic events in 2018, such as the Limerock Fire in Eastpoint and Hurricane Michael, our district is utilizing our limited resources to assist our families. I am certain that access to mental health services through telehealth will be a long-term positive impact on the lives of our students and families.”

“This technology is critical for the students of Gulf County,” said Gulf County Superintendent Jim Norton. “I am proud to have had the opportunity to collaborate with our state and local partners to bring telehealth mental health services to our school district and continue our path toward recovery.”

“We want every student in our district to feel safe and supported while coping with the lasting impacts of Hurricane Michael,” said Calhoun County Superintendent Darryl Taylor. “Rebuilding our students’ emotional and mental well-being is our top priority. This added technology and additional resources will further our efforts to heal our children.”

“The impacts of Hurricane Michael are still present in our community as we continue our road to recovery,” said Liberty County Superintendent David Summers. “I applaud First Lady Casey DeSantis and the Florida Department of Children and Families for this level of support to ensure the mental health needs of our students are met. It will take time to heal, but this progress is a sign of hope.”

Additional information regarding yesterday’s announcements can be found HERE.



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