At the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis announced $23 million in funding to bolster Florida’s mental health services system as well as an additional funding initiative to support first responders who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
This $23 million in funding, derived from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, will reinforce mental health support available in Florida and allow the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to continue providing mental health and substance abuse treatment for Floridians in need.
Additionally, Gov. DeSantis and First Lady DeSantis announced that Florida is working with federal partners to set aside a portion of a previously announced $4.9 million federal grant to be used for peer-to-peer counseling services for Florida’s first responders through the state’s 2-1-1 support system.
“The effects of social isolation and separation from loved ones over the last several months have exacerbated the need for mental health services and support across our state,” said Gov. DeSantis on Friday. “With this funding, we will expand community-based mental health programs and services and enhance the system of care for all Floridians in need.”
“I will work with the governor to keep the mental health and well-being of Floridians at the forefront of decision making, especially as we’ve faced unforeseen challenges due to COVID-19,” said First Lady DeSantis. “I’m proud that now we not only have an additional $23 million to reinforce mental health support available in Florida, but we continue to support the heroes who selflessly serve and protect us – our first responders.”
Of the $23 million in funding, $18 million will be provided for Community Based Services by expanding the capacity of the Florida Assertive Community Teams (FACT), Community Action Teams (CAT) and the Family Intensive Treatment Teams (FIT) to serve an additional 300 adults and 375 youth with severe mental illness needing crisis intervention.
“The Governor and First Lady have maintained an unparalleled commitment to providing mental health and substance abuse treatment for all in need,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “Today’s funding announcement further supports the work being done around the state to increase access to important mental health services for Floridians.”
“I was glad to join the mental health roundtable this morning with Governor DeSantis and First Lady DeSantis,” said Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor. “Their leadership is making a difference, and I look forward to working with them and my colleagues in the legislature to ensure that Floridians have access to the services they need.”