Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis held two listening sessions on mental health and substance abuse, the first at First Coast High School in Jacksonville and the second at the Hanley Foundation in West Palm Beach. Today’s listening sessions were part of the First Lady’s Hope for Healing Florida campaign, which strives to combine the resources and efforts of the public and private sectors to better serve Floridians struggling with mental health and substance abuse.

“This initiative surrounding mental health and substance abuse is an investment in the people of our state as we work to ensure they are receiving meaningful help and positive outcomes through effective treatment,” said First Lady DeSantis. “Through our Hope for Healing campaign, we are shining a spotlight on mental health and substance abuse and working to remove the stigma surrounding these issues. Seeking help is not something to be ashamed of, and at the end of the day, getting help and living a productive life is what is important.”


Photo Credit: Governor’s Press Office

In Jacksonville, First Lady DeSantis was joined by Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Department of Children and Families Chief of Staff David Mica, Representative Wyman Duggan, Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diane Greene, Duval County Dependency Judge David Gooding, as well as stakeholders and community leaders from across the Jacksonville area.

“Input from stakeholders who know firsthand the issues surrounding appropriate care for mental illness and substance abuse disorders is invaluable when it comes to achieving meaningful change specific to the needs of residents in each community,” said Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew. “Our visits today to First Coast High School and the Hanley Foundation provided a great deal of insight toward our work to ensure individuals and families who are suffering have access to appropriate support and treatment services. I commend First Lady DeSantis for her persistent focus on these issues, and I am proud to stand with her in this fight.”

“I am honored to join First Lady DeSantis at today’s listening session on mental health and substance abuse prevention,” said Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “These debilitating conditions rob so many of their life’s potential and I applaud the First Lady’s commitment to supporting individuals and families in their fight against these challenges. This initiative is already making a positive impact on students. This week, the State Board of Education plans to vote on a rule that requires mental and emotional health education for students so they can recognize the hazards of teen suicide, bullying and cyberbullying, and opioid and alcohol addictions.”

“I want to thank the First Lady and Commissioner for coming to First Coast High School today to raise awareness to the ongoing issues of mental health and substance abuse,” said Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diane Greene. “Duval County Schools is working to ensure that all of our students have access to mentors, social and emotional learning curriculum, as well as mental health professionals and I appreciate the First Lady’s support through the Hope for Healing Florida initiative.”

In West Palm Beach, First Lady DeSantis was joined by Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, Senator Gayle Harrell, Department of Children and Families Chief of Staff David Mica, Department of Education Chancellor of Innovation Dr. Eric Hall, Hanley Foundation CEO Jan Cairnes and Department of Children and Families Director of Care Coordination Rodney Moore, among other community leaders.

“We are making great strides, but a stigma still remains around mental illness and that stigma keeps many who struggle from getting help,” said Florida Department of Education Chancellor of Innovation Dr. Eric Hall. “Education leaders throughout Florida are preparing for the start of a new school year. This open dialogue, combined with the forward-thinking policy changes and increased funding we are implementing, will undoubtedly save lives. On behalf of Florida’s entire education community, I thank First Lady Casey DeSantis for using her platform to raise awareness about this critical issue.”

“It was a pleasure to have the First Lady in West Palm Beach today to discuss Floridians’ ongoing battles with mental health and substance abuse,” said Senator Gayle Harrell. “With the help of her Hope for Healing campaign, we are making great strides for the people of our state who are in need. I thank First Lady DeSantis for her efforts to raise awareness and I look forward to continuing to work with her on this important issue.”

Governor DeSantis’ Bold Vision for a Brighter Future Budget included nearly $2 billion in substance abuse prevention and mental health funding. This includes more than $123 million in state and federal funding for medication-assisted treatment and prevention and recovery services to confront the opioid epidemic.

The Governor’s budget also included $75 million for the Mental Health Assistance Allocation for Florida schools. This funding will go directly to school districts to provide additional mental health services to students in need.

For more information on the First Lady’s Hope for Healing Florida campaign, please visit www.HopeForHealingFL.com

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