Tallahassee, FL (STL.News) Recently, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) received a nearly $5 million emergency grant to implement a Crisis Counseling Program to help Floridians respond to the behavioral health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant, awarded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will provide crisis counseling services through Florida’s network of 2-1-1 crisis helplines, assisting individuals in need of mental or behavioral health counseling and referrals.
“Governor DeSantis and I are grateful for the opportunity to increase access to critical behavioral health services,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “Through this program, one-on-one counseling will be readily available to those in crisis, ensuring they have the resources and support they need to address their own specific needs, recover fully, and begin to move forward with purpose.”
Under the Federal Crisis Counseling Program Service Grant, DCF was awarded $4,994,530 to be utilized over the next nine months. This funding will expand the existing capacity of crisis counselors within twelve 2-1-1 providers, while promoting the availability of behavioral health services among vulnerable populations, including children and their caregivers, first responders and healthcare workers, and those grieving a loss. 2-1-1 providers will routinely connect individuals to resources, while conducting telephone counseling services and screening callers for indications of more long-term behavioral health needs.
“With recent increases in calls to 2-1-1 statewide, the need for behavioral health services is overwhelmingly apparent,” said DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. “Thanks to support from Governor DeSantis, First Lady DeSantis, and our federal partners, Florida’s children and families will have access to counseling and referral services they need to cope during this period of transition and recovery.”
As stated under Chapter 408.918, Florida Statutes, Florida’s 2-1-1 network is authorized to serve as the single point of coordination for information and referral for health and human services. Florida’s Crisis Counseling Program provides counseling services in all 67 counties, including the Miccosukee tribe, through 2-1-1 providers.