Florida Guardian AD LITEM Office  Raises Awareness of Children's Mental Health

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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office is joining 
other advocates across Florida and the nation to raise awareness about the importance of children’s 
mental health and its role in their healthy development from birth. The U.S. Substance Abuse and 
Mental Health Services Administration hosted the first Awareness Day in 2005 to bring national 
attention to caring for every child’s mental health. The theme this year is “More Than Enough.” The 
National Alliance on Mental Illness states that this is an opportunity for all of us to come 
together and remember the inherent value we each hold — no matter our diagnosis, appearance, 
socioeconomic status, background or ability.

Research shows abused and neglected children are at higher risk of developmental delays, school 
failure and social and emotional problems than non-abused children.  Even more sobering, 
publications from the National Institute of Mental Health assert that half of all lifetime cases of 
mental illness begin by age 14. Circuit Director Barbara Robertson for the Statewide Guardian ad 
Litem Office in the 5th Circuit states, “From anxiety to other mental health conditions, like 
depression to behavioral challenges, the rates of mental illness are a true challenge to all 
children in foster care. Before a child enters foster care, they have likely experienced trauma. 
All of these adverse childhood experiences impact a child’s well-being. At the Statewide Guardian 
ad Litem Office, our multi-disciplinary teams represent and advocate for the child and work hard so 
every child has the necessary therapeutic intervention to meet their specific needs.”

The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office represents Florida's abused, abandoned, and neglected 
children in court and the community. Through the collaboration of a national best practice multi- 
disciplinary team that includes a Guardian ad Litem Attorney, child welfare professional and 
hopefully a trained volunteer or pro bono attorney from the child’s community. The team provides 
legal representation for children's legal interests while assisting the child in expressing their 
needs and wishes. Our unique approach allows us to support the whole child, addressing their 
physical, educational, mental, emotional, social, and legal needs. In 2022, the Statewide Guardian 
ad Litem Office represented over 36,000 children in Florida.

The volunteer piece of the team is where you can help. A team member that is missing for many 
children in our community. You can help, take action, and make a difference in a child's life by 
joining the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office Child Advocacy Team. Learn more by visiting 
www.guardianadlitem.org or calling 352-812-6971.