DCF Highlights More Than 100,000 Crisis Counseling Services Provided on the One-Year Anniversary of Hurricane Ian
September 29, 2023
For Immediate Release: September 28, 2023
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Department of Children and Families (Department) Secretary Shevaun Harris highlighted the tremendous impact that crisis counseling services and additional mental health resources have had in supporting individuals impacted by Hurricane Ian. Crisis counselors have provided more than 100,000 services to families and individuals over the past year. The Department and our partners quickly deployed crisis counselors into the impacted areas through the Family Resource Support Centers, Disaster Recovery Centers, D-SNAP locations, and even directly into communities where providers went door to door offering services and resources to families in need.
“Hurricane Ian left catastrophic physical damage to many parts of Southwest Florida and for many individuals impacted, the emotional toll can linger long past the completed repairs. That is why crisis counseling and mental health resources are so vital in our response efforts,” said Secretary Shevaun Harris. “Our Department has worked to ensure that the necessary resiliency resources were and remain available long after the initial impact. We are grateful to Governor DeSantis for his leadership before, during, and after this storm and for all of our partners serving families who wish to access these vital services.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, the Department launched the Family Support Line, which connects individuals and families who were impacted by Hurricane Ian with peers who recovered from Hurricane Michael. Volunteers from the Panhandle use their personal experiences to provide support, advice, and a helping hand to victims of Hurricane Ian. Individuals who would like to talk with a Family Support Peer can call 888-850-SWFL.
Additionally, the Department offers on-demand mental and behavioral health support using artificial intelligence. This technology is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through text messaging. Anyone seeking support can text the message “Hi” to 1-833-365-CHAT (2428). Floridians can utilize this service to learn tools to build resilience and self-awareness.
To further help recovery efforts of Florida’s first responders, a single First Responder Support Line,
407-823-1657, was created to aggregate resources into a single point of contact that connects first responders with behavioral health professionals. Over the past year more than 330,000 contacts for First Responder Resiliency Resources have been made.
The Florida Department of Health and the Department last year partnered with a therapy platform to offer mental health services through three months of free online therapy to those impacted by Hurricane Ian. To access these free services, Floridians can visit betterhelp.com/voucher and use code: HurricaneIan. BetterHelp will then prompt impacted Floridians with a questionnaire to best match them with a licensed mental health professional.
Through Project COPE, the Department offers free individual and group counseling services through local community-based providers for about two years post-disaster.
“Despite extensive damage to many of our facilities from Hurricane Ian, SalusCare did not stop providing services, keeping all of our staff employed, while meeting the needs of the community by providing timely services to the most vulnerable,” said SalusCare President and CEO Stacey Cook, M.S.W., LCSW, CPNLP. “Even as we have navigated some of the same challenges as others getting our facilities repaired, we have also worked continuously to provide outpatient therapy, outpatient psychiatry, community services, and children’s services, with walk-in and telehealth availability and little to no wait times during this traumatic time for our community.”
“Charlotte Behavioral Health Care is proud to continue to serve Charlotte, DeSoto, and the surrounding counties as we recover together from the devastating impact of Hurricane Ian. Through the support of the Department and Governor and Casey DeSantis, CBHC has been able to continuously provide the essential crisis services needed in our communities. The resilience of our community inspires us to keep going. However, our work is not done. The impact of Hurricane Ian will be felt long after this first anniversary, and we are grateful to partner with the Department and other Southwest Florida community partners to continue these recovery efforts,” said Charlotte Behavioral Health Care CEO Victoria Scanlon, LMHC.
Providers who are participating in the crisis counseling program include:
- Center for Progress and Excellence
- Centerstone Behavioral Health
- Charlotte Behavioral Health Center
- Children's Home Society
- First Step of Sarasota
- SMA Healthcare
- Tri-County Human Services
- Heart of FL United Way
- United Way of Lee County
For more information about the crisis counseling services, or to access services please visit myflfamilies.com/projectcope.