ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Governor Ron DeSantis says he is making first responder mental health a priority.
At a roundtable event in Tampa Friday morning, DeSantis announced he’s putting $12 million towards mental health services for those who serve the state.READ MORE: Americans Are Quitting At Record Rates. Georgia Leads The Pack.
At St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue, first responders say the tragedies they see on a daily basis impacts them outside of work, and the $12 million from the state will help expand the department’s mental health peer support program.
For first responders, including St. Petersburg firefighter, Lieutenant Robert Neuberger, their work follows them home.
“I’ll pass an intersection and I’ll see a gouge mark in the road, and that reminds me of the accidents I went to where a child may have died. We have to build up a lot of resiliency to keep ourselves squared away on a daily basis,” said Neuberger.
He says now more than ever before mental health has become a focus for the St. Petersburg Fire Department.
“As we have developed over the last 20 years, we’ve realized that all these events taking place have a significant impact on all of our people,” said Neuberger.READ MORE: Actor, Comedian Louie Anderson Dies At 68
On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced at a roundtable meeting that he will be giving $12 million towards first responder mental health services. Agencies can apply for some of that money on a local level.
“It does take an emotional toll when you’re doing this type of work, what you’re exposed to, the trials and tribulations of being a first responder,” said DeSantis.
Officials say the money will expand mental health resources and peer support for first responders in the state.
“Respondents will have the option of behavioral health services like therapy services in person or through tele-health for those who may need additional support than what their insurance covers,” said Shevaun Harris with the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Lieutenant Neuberger says the money will go towards expanding the St. Petersburg Fire Department’s current mental health program.MORE NEWS: St. Petersburg City Council Passes New Measures For Affordable Housing
“We’re always here for the community first to be there and support all of their needs. We need to be better about supporting out needs as well,” said Neuberger.