Casey DeSantis Leads Children and Youth Cabinet Meeting on Mental Health, Student Resiliency

On Tuesday, Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis, the chairwoman of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, convened a meeting to hear Cabinet members’ priorities, discuss the social stigma of mental health and provide updates on building resiliency in Florida’s students.

In 2020, DeSantis designated the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Sec. Simone Marstiller to lead a workgroup to expand the effort to address stigma associated with mental health – particularly in minority communities across the state and beyond. This week, Marstiller, now in charge of the Agency for Healthcare Administration, presented its findings and recommendations during the meeting.

“It was an honor to lead a meeting of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet this morning to discuss continued collaboration across state, local and nongovernment partners,” said DeSantis. “Last year, I charged the Cabinet with examining the stigma surrounding mental health in minority communities and today we heard recommendations on how to effect change on this front. There is tremendous synergy with our ongoing efforts to ensure Florida kids are empowered to be resilient, no matter their circumstances in life.”

“Working together with this fantastic group of people, we have come up with some short-term and long-term steps that the state can take to address the social stigma within minority communities,” said Marstiller. “Peer support – that was the number one theme that ran across all of our meetings and discussions.”

Additionally, Chancellor Jacob Oliva provided an update to the Cabinet on the Department of Education’s efforts to build resiliency in Florida’s students and families, including a free, online toolkit – available on – assembled to assist teachers in the development of more resilient and healthy students. DeSantis tasked the members of the committee with reviewing these resiliency tools and presenting on ways to incorporate the key tenants – problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, the value of mentorship, empathy, respect and responsibility – into work on behalf of Florida’s children and youth moving forward.

The Cabinet also heard updates from Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Barbara Palmer and Department of Juvenile Justice Acting Secretary Josie Tamayo.


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