Florida first lady Casey DeSantis launches mental health initiative

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Florida first lady Casey DeSantis announced a new initiative on Thursday addressing mental health and substance abuse issues. 

DeSantis made the announcement at Roland Park K-8 Magnet School in Tampa, joined by her husband, Governor Ron DeSantis, along with Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell and Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Simone Marstiller.

The program is called "Hope for Healing." DeSantis said she plans on bringing state agencies together to evaluate Florida's existing mental health and substance abuse programs. 

The first lady said the goal is to determine the successes and failures of these programs in an effort to determine the best way to allocate state funding. 

The initial phase of the program will include the rollout of a comprehensive resource guide for people in crisis, along with the launch of of a new website and mobile app that include interactive maps that show where people can get help. DeSantis described the effort as a 21st century upgrade for solving the crisis. 

Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, students in middle and high school will receive five hours of mental health awareness training to help classmates who are struggling. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as many as one in six American children ages 2-8 has a diagnosed mental, behavioral or developmental disorder.