Our first responders must have the emotional support they need when things get tough, which is why the First Lady and I are providing funding for mental health resources to help our heroes.

Florida Governor And First Lady Desantis: $12 Million To Expand Peer-To-Peer Mental Health Services For First Responders

On Friday, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis announced $12 million in funding to expand peer-to-peer mental health services available for first responders through the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to bolster existing prevention and intervention services for first responders and their families.

First Lady DeSantis made the announcement at the Tampa Firefighters Museum while highlighting providers in the Tampa Bay Area who are already engaging in a peer-to-peer model of support.

“Our first responders have made it their life’s work to put the needs of others before their own,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “It is vital that we provide them with resiliency and mental health resources to continue serving our communities. By expanding these services, we can help to create a strong network of support for our first responders.”

The $12 million in funding will go to providers in all six DCF regions and will be used to create or expand existing local peer-based services.

These services will help to connect first responders and their families with peers who are trained in offering information and supportive counseling.

“First responders impact the lives of Floridians every day and they deserve our support,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “In Florida, we realize that on top of financial support, our first responders need to have resources available to support their mental health. We will continue to make investments in our first responders that will make lasting impacts.”

The funding is in addition to the many resources that Governor and First Lady DeSantis have prioritized the past three years. Those initiatives have included:

  • The launch of the Hope for Healing initiative and the expansion of the Hope For Healing website to make it easier to access help for mental health and substance abuse.
  • Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity which utilizes ‘Care Navigators’ to guide Floridians on an individualized path to prosperity.
  • $5 million to provide crisis counseling services through Florida’s network of 2-1-1 crisis helplines.
  • Providing $120 million for district Mental Health Assistance programs
  • The launch of SurfsideStrength.com in order to support survivors, families and first responders of the Surfside tragedy to receive much needed emotional support.

In addition to expanding peer-to-peer services, DCF has launched the First Responder Resiliency resource page on the DCF website. The page provides first responders with available mental health resources that they can call or access at any time.

The page is also where organizations can access the application to apply for available funding. 

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