$1M gift from The Players to help mental health needs of students

First Lady Casey DeSantis among leaders who announced BRAVE program

Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis speaks at First Coast High School.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – National data reveals that mental illness among youth is on the rise. St. Johns County is a state leader in overall deaths by suicide for young adults ages 18 through 24. 

Now, The Players is stepping to help combat those statistics.  

With a $1 million gift from The Players, Flagler Health+ is partnering with St. Johns County public schools to launch a program designed to address the mental health stigma that prevents youth from seeking support for themselves and/or their peers experiencing mental distress.

The initiative called B.R.A.V.E. -- Be Resilient And Voice Emotions -- was announced Monday afternoon at Nease High School by area and state leaders, including Florida's First Lady Casey DeSantis, who has been outspoken about the need for mental health and announced her Hope for Healing initiative in July.

"It shouldn't just be the state agencies doing one thing, federal doing another, communities. It should be everyone working together and that includes our faith-based organizations, our private sector, our charities," DeSantis said. "At the end of the day, how do we all come together to put the outcome on the individuals so they are living happy, healthy and productive lives."

In Florida, six out of 10 youth (66.8%) who are depressed and are most at-risk for depression do not receive any mental health treatment. B.R.A.V.E. is meant to change that by providing St. Johns County public school students and families with improved access to behavioral health services.

Seventy students from around St. Johns County have already signed up for the program. 

Following the announcement, DeSantis hosted a round-table discussion with students at Nease High.