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State of Florida Appropriates $3 Million in 2022-23 Budget to Support BRAVE Program

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Erin Wallner
State of Florida Appropriates $3 Million in 2022-23 Budget to Support BRAVE Program

St. Augustine, Fla. October 4, 2022 – The Florida House of Representatives recently approved $3 million in appropriations for Flagler Health+’s BRAVE program in the state’s 2022-23 budget. This funding will help the mental health program continue to grow and make even more of an impact on youth. BRAVE programming is currently available in five northeast Florida school districts and this increased funding is intended to help the program expand to the rest of the state.

BRAVE, which stands for Be Resilient and Voice Emotions, is designed to reduce stigma and create conversations around mental health. The program, launched in 2019, encourages youth to get in touch with their mental health early on and to be open to receiving help.

“We would like to express our appreciation for the outstanding leadership of our House sponsor Josie Tomkow and our Senate sponsor Travis Hutson, as well as the support and guidance of Representative Cyndi Stevenson for the important work being done by the BRAVE program in northeast Florida,” said Carlton DeVooght, President and CEO of Flagler Health+.

“This funding will allow the expansion of the program into more schools, positively impacting more youth in need of this vital programming,” said Paige Stanton, Executive Director of Flagler Health+’s Care Connect+.

BRAVE supports access to behavioral health services via care navigation and technology. As part of Flagler Health+’s Care Connect+, BRAVE works with the whole family to address social determinants of, and around, mental health to ensure the delivery of the proper care, at the right time, in the right place.

Initially launched in partnership with the St. Johns County School District and with support from THE PLAYERS Championship golf tournament, the program has already made significant progress. Before BRAVE’s implementation in St. Johns County Schools, only 35% of students referred to mental health providers were seen by a medical professional. With the BRAVE program, that rate has increased to 92%. Since its founding three years ago, and despite the pandemic, BRAVE has expanded into more school districts including Clay, Nassau, Putnam and Flagler Counties, with the ability to assist over 104,000 students.

A centerpiece of the program is the BRAVE Summit, an annual mental health event with speakers and entertainment, which aims to open a dialogue with teens to address the stigma associated with mental health and encourage them to learn how to foster mental health wellness for themselves and their peers. The mission is to provide pathways to support systems for those young people who are struggling, or know someone who is struggling so that they feel equipped to ask for and provide the support that is needed. This past year over 500 students attended the summit at the St. Augustine Amphitheater, with 96% of attendees stating that the summit influenced them to reach out for mental health support.

Providers and schools interested in implementing the BRAVE program in their communities can visit or e-mail Jennifer Wills at