Florida education leaders working to ensure mental health services for school

Haneifah Ahmad, Intern Reporter

Students and families are likely getting access to mental health resources for this upcoming school year. 

This week, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) and the Department of Children and Families presented a structure for how school districts can develop their mental health plans.

According to the 2020-2021 Mental Health Assistance Allocation Plan Submission, this is “a focus on a multi-tiered system of supports to deliver evidence-based mental health care assessment, diagnosis, intervention, treatment and recovery services to students with one or more co-occurring substance abuse diagnoses and to students at high risk of such diagnoses. The provision of these services must be coordinated with a student’s primary mental health care provider and with other mental health providers involved in the student’s care.” 

Leaders from Florida’s Departments of Education, and children and families talked about how schools need to provide mental health services for students in school and at home. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a challenge for schools to come up with mental health plans when they are trying to develop reopening plans.

“Regardless of what options our families decide to take this year, semester or whatever, that they all have equal access and continuum of services and mental health supports, and not only to they have that access, but they understand how to access those supports,” said FDOE Director of Student Support Services Andrew Weatherill.

For this year, the state has put $100 million towards mental health funding and the plan is for every student to have access to mental health services.

State law requires that school districts should submit their approved plans to the education commissioner by August 1.


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