FL’s rural school districts get money to expand student mental health services during COVID-19

First Lady Casey DeSantis announces $2 million in funding for mental health services in 18 Fl. school districts. Credit: screenshot from the Florida Channel

The new academic school year continues to be a stressful time for students, with kids trying to adjust to a social distance learning environment at brick-and-mortar schools or deal with the challenges of online learning.

At a roundtable discussion on mental health this week, First Lady Casey DeSantis said that “mental wellness was something we needed to prioritize before the pandemic — this has just made it even more important.”

She announced $2 million to bolster mental health resources for 18 of Florida’s rural counties.

The counties are: Bradford, Calhoun, DeSoto, Dixie, Glades, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hardee, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Union, Washington, according to a press release.

The funds come as a part of the CARES Act, a 2.2 trillion dollar stimulus package from the Trump administration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Money can be used for everything from additional school-based mental health services involving professionals and providers as well as enhancing telehealth access to help serve students.

The funding comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday reported 687,909 COVID-19 infections and 13,416 deaths of Florida residents.

Florida ranks 3rd in the nation for the number of COVID-19 infections, following California and Texas, according to a New York Times analysis, with high rates of infections in several north Florida counties.

The Phoenix has been writing about mental health issues at schools during the pandemic.

Teachers are attempting to address mental health issues in classrooms, with methods such as journaling and teaching students how to address their anxieties when they start to feel stressed.

Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.