Casey DeSantis pushes ‘resiliency’ makeover for mental health in schools

Florida Politics | By Gray Rohrer | March 22, 2023

‘It’s not about being a victim relegated to a set of circumstances you cannot overcome.’

Florida could soon adopt new standards for mental health services in K-12 schools, focusing on “resiliency” and allowing parents to become coaches and mentors in classrooms.

First Lady Casey DeSantis unveiled the push for the change during an event at Florida State University ahead of a meeting of the State Board of Education, which is expected to approve the new standards.

The move is an effort to “reframe and rethink the way we’re approaching mental health,” DeSantis said. “It’s not about being a victim relegated to a set of circumstances you cannot overcome.”

DeSantis said the push will come with $21 million to provide teachers with a curriculum to teach students the values of hard work, perseverance, dedication, problem-solving, critical thinking, grit, self-management, mentorship, citizenship, honesty and volunteerism.

Parents of students at a school will also be able to sign up for training in the resiliency effort, which will allow mental health counselors in schools to focus on the more “acute” cases, DeSantis said.

“What a brilliant idea to bring moms and dads into school and give them this training,” said Education Commissioner Manny Diaz.

Jack Brewer, a former NFL player who runs a mentorship program for at-risk youth, said the change will address the “root problem” of having 2.5 million children in Florida living in one-parent households.

“They don’t have that manly influence in their lives,” Brewer said. “They have been softened up; we have enough of the soft approach to raising our kids.”

Diaz said that, upon approval by the board later on Wednesday, his Department of Education should be able to have the program in place for the 2023-24 school year.

“The execution of this plan really comes down to those that are training those that are going to implement it,” Diaz said. “We really have no time to waste on this. It’s the lives of the future of our children that are at stake on this.”

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