First Lady Casey DeSantis Holds Listening Session on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in Sanford

SANFORD, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Today, First Lady Casey DeSantis held a listening session on mental health and substance abuse at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Sanford. This was her second listening session of the day following a stop at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast in Venice. These sessions were part of the First Lady’s Hope for Healing Florida campaign, a multi-agency initiative that strives to combine the resources and efforts of the public and private sectors to better serve Floridians struggling with mental health and substance abuse.

Hope for Healing Florida resource guide banner. Photo: Willie David/Florida National News.

Photo: Willie David/Florida National News.

First Lady DeSantis also announced a new drug abuse prevention panel with Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma serving as chair. The panel will discuss and determine best practices and innovative solutions to combat drug abuse throughout the state, especially concerning Florida’s youth.

“I am excited to announce the formation of a new drug abuse prevention panel and I thank Sheriff Dennis Lemma for his willingness to serve as chair of this important initiative,” said First Lady DeSantis. “As we enter the school year, we want to make sure that kids know how dangerous drugs can be, as well as what they should do if someone in their home is using drugs. We will continue to confront these challenges head-on and I look forward to working with leaders from around the state to determine how we can better serve those in need.”

The First Lady was joined today by Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Simone Marstiller, Representative Cyndi Stevenson, Representative Scott Plakon, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma, Orange County Sheriff John Mina, Department of Children and Families Chief of Staff David Mica, as well as stakeholders and community leaders from the Orlando area.

“It was a pleasure having First Lady DeSantis at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office today and I am honored to chair her new drug abuse prevention panel,” said Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma. “The collective IQ of a group is always stronger than that of an individual and through increased collaboration being spearheaded by the First Lady, I am confident we will find meaningful solutions to these challenges facing Floridians.”

“First Lady Casey DeSantis’ leadership in this area is needed and welcome,” said Representative Cyndi Stevenson. “Her energy, and the act of bringing people together will serve as a catalyst to promote needed improvements in the access to care and will pay long term dividends for many Floridians and their families.”

Governor DeSantis’ Bold Vision for a Brighter Future Budget included nearly $2 billion in substance abuse prevention and mental health funding. This includes more than $123 million in state and federal funding for medication-assisted treatment and prevention and recovery services to confront the opioid epidemic.

The Governor’s budget also included $75 million for the Mental Health Assistance Allocation for Florida schools. This funding will go directly to school districts to provide additional mental health services to students in need.

More information on Hope for Healing Florida visit

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