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Gov. DeSantis, first lady announce $12M in mental health resource funding for first responders

The first lady said an important component of the funding will be providing "peer-to-peer" support to first responders.

TAMPA, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis were in Tampa on Friday to discuss efforts to "expand and improve access to mental health services for first responders."

During a roundtable at the Tampa Firefighters Museum, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced $12 million will be put forth through the Department of Children and Families specifically for providing mental health resources for first responders.

“Our first responders have made it their life’s work to put the needs of others before their own,” the first lady said. “It is vital that we provide them with resiliency and mental health resources to continue serving our communities."

Casey DeSantis has worked closely with DCF since her husband took office. She spearheaded Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity, a Department of Children and Families initiative that focused on fostering collaborations between the state, religious organizations and the private sector to help Floridians find "prosperity." 

The first lady says the money will be distributed to the six DCF regions throughout Florida. From there, funds can be given out locally. "Cause we know what works in some areas might not work in another area," Casey DeSantis said.

And Mrs. DeSantis said the most important part of this resource will be the "peer-to-peer component," where first responders will be able to talk to others who have worked or are working in the same position to get the support and help they need.

Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris also joined the governor and first lady during the announcement and expressed her support of the initiative.

The first lady has been a champion of mental health since DeSantis took office, with her working to bolster resources and education for first responders, veterans and kids. 

Over the past few weeks, DeSantis has continued his trek across the Sunshine State announcing parts of his upcoming budget proposal.

This week, DeSantis said he plans to propose pay increases and more bonuses for every law enforcement officer, first responder and EMT in the next legislative session. 

And, on Thursday, he announced plans to allot $100 million of the state budget in "support" of the National Guard. 

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