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First Lady Casey DeSantis Announces New Approach to Mental Health in Florida Schools

Florida will be the first state in the nation to utilize a destigmatized, resiliency-focused model.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Schools in Florida will soon begin teaching students how to overcome mental health-related challenges, rather than treating them as a disorder. On Thursday, First Lady Casey DeSantis proposed a “groundbreaking shift in how Florida supports the health and wellbeing of its students.” The State Board of Education is expected to unanimously approve the proposal.

“With our resiliency initiative, our goal is to equip students with the skills that will help them learn to persevere through life’s inevitable challenges,” the first lady said in a press release. “We are taking a negative and turning it into a positive by empowering kids to strive to overcome challenges while recognizing and celebrating the success in doing so.”

Once approved, Florida will be the first state in the country to establish the new model based on resiliency and overcoming challenges rather than traditional models that can perpetuate stereotypes and stigmas around mental health.

The model was formulated through Casey DeSantis’ Resiliency Florida Initiative that partnered with all major professional sports teams in Florida, as well as numerous high-profile athletes and coaches based in the Sunshine State. Since the start of the initiative in February 2021, the first lady’s myriad conversations with students, teachers, faculty, parents, mental health coordinators and various other stakeholders across the state helped inform the final outcome.

Resources and required instruction for the initiative will include the following:

  • Updated character standards in the form of resiliency standards that include a focus on volunteerism, problem solving, critical thinking, compassion and grit
  • A million-dollar outreach effort to help inform students, parents and teachers of resiliency support
  • Free curriculum available to educators and parents that ties back to the foundational resiliency skills
  • Tools created specifically for parents interested in learning what resources are available to help their children

“Thank you to First Lady Casey DeSantis’ for her leadership and vision with resiliency education which will promote civic and character education and life skills to help students develop into confident and resilient adults,” Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. said. “I look forward to this transformative educational model to serve as an example for the rest of the nation to follow.”