Florida’s First Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator coming to Bay County


First Lady Casey DeSantis made the announcement of the first Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator in Florida’s history at the Florida Behavioral Health Association’s ‘Behavioral Health Day’ event at the Florida Capitol. (Photo Courtesy of Governor’s Press Office)

Tallahassee, Fla. (WMBB) – First Lady Casey DeSantis announced Wednesday that the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has hired the first Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator in state history.

The position will focus solely on helping communities obtain critical mental health services following a disaster, according to the Governor’s Office. Darcy Abbott will on-boarded at FDEM before being deployed to Bay County to assist with coordinating mental health services for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. Abbott has nearly 30 years of experience in social work.

“I am looking forward to the good work Darcy Abbott will provide for the people of Northwest Florida as they continue to recover,” said DeSantis. “This role is just one piece of our continued efforts to make these communities feel whole again. The distress a disaster can have on residents is just as impactful as the physical destruction left behind, and we will continue to provide much-needed support as we develop and implement various mental health services.”

FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz said Hurricane Michael created a mental health crisis in the Panhandle that had never been experienced in Florida before.

 “Thousands of families lost their homes overnight, and children watched as their parents struggled to find jobs and their friends moved away. To combat this crisis, we needed to create a solution never conceived before,” Moskowitz said. “The First Lady recognized this, and we are proud to have hired a position that is the first of its kind in the nation, setting the bar for the rest of the country and making mental health a top priority in disaster recovery.”

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