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