Florida's Hurricane Michael Disaster Response Project will focus on continued recovery efforts for both children and adults who are experiencing substance misuse, stress, anxiety, depression, or other behavioral health symptoms, and in need of mental or substance use disorder treatment, crisis intervention, care coordination and other supports. Primary focus will be on school age children through partnerships with local school districts. Schools in the affected areas have reported that as a result of the trauma form directly experiencing the storm, and the complicated physical, psychological, and financial ongoing recovery, there has been a dramatic increase in mental health referrals. This is expected to be compounded by the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For adults, one focus area will be parents with child welfare involvement who present with behavioral health conditions. Data from the area's network management agency for child welfare show that 438 children have been placed in foster care services since the date of the storm. Reunification efforts are hampered by limited access to needed services for the parents of these children. Consistent with pre-hurricane trends, many of the parents are presenting with substance use disorders or co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Funds will also be allocated to community service providers for a comprehensive array of treatment and recovery support services for adults with mental and substance use disorders who were impacted by the hurricane. Franklin, Liberty, Bay, Gulf, Jackson, Calhoun and Washington counties in the Florida panhandle will comprise the target area served with grant funds.