Expanding mental health support for first responders

Funding for programs that provide peer-to-peer mental health services for law enforcement, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and firefighters has been increased by $ 12 million as part of a plan unveiled by Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis at a panel discussion at the Tampa Fire Department Museum on December 3.

“The average person sees two to three traumatic events in their lifetime, but if you’re a first responder, you see something like 180 of these traumatic events in your career, if not more,” said Casey DeSantis. “It has an emotional and mental impact not only on (first responders) but also on (their) families.”

The increased funding will boost the peer-to-peer services listed on the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) First Responder Resilience Resource page. The page offers phone and text resources that connect first responders or their family members with other first responders who can offer immediate emotional support and refer them to other mental health counseling services.

The peer-to-peer aspect of the resource is essential, said Casey DeSantis.

“As a veteran (first responder), when you answer the phone and there’s a veteran on the other end of the line, you have this connection that other people might not have, and that’s been all. difference, ”she said.

The increase is the latest in the DeSantis administration’s support for mental health services, including funding for crisis counseling services through the Florida 2-1-1 crisis hotline and d other mental health assistance programs.

For more information on prevention and response services for first responders and their families, visit
Resilience of First Responders – Florida Department of Children and Families (myflfamilies.com).

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