May 13, 2020

School mental health liaisons receive scholarship for suicide prevention accreditation

1.3 min read| Published On: May 13th, 2020|

By James Combs

School mental health liaisons receive scholarship for suicide prevention accreditation

1.3 min read| Published On: May 13th, 2020|

Pictured L-R: Rob English, executive director of Mount Dora Community Trust, Carman Cullen-Batt, executive director of the Education Foundation of Lake County, and Joe Ziler, president of Kevco Builders.

Four Lake County Schools mental health liaisons each will receive a $500 scholarship toward completion of the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) School Suicide Prevention Accreditation, according to a press release issued by Lake County Schools. This was made possible through a $2,000 grant from the MIKE Endowment (Mental Illness and Kindness Endowment).

The endowment, created by Joe Ziler and Kevco Builders, through the Mount Dora Community Trust, is dedicated to bringing awareness to mental illness and to provide funding to organizations and programs in the local community that support education and help for mental health.

The AAS’s School Suicide Prevention Accreditation teaches the best evidence-based prevention practices with a focus on identifying and dealing with at risk youths.

“The current pandemic situation is potentially adding to the stress that students may feel which can lead to suicidal thoughts,” Joe, whose brother Mike died by suicide nearly seven years ago, said in the release. “Having accredited mental health liaisons in our schools, who will advocate for troubled kids and help educate teachers, staff and students about prevention, will help change the way people think and react to mental health and, ultimately, save lives.”

The grant, which is being facilitated by the Education Foundation of Lake County, is the first disbursement from the MIKE Endowment, which was developed in October 2019.

“Joe Ziler has been a steadfast and generous supporter of Lake County Schools,” said Carman Cullen-Batt, executive director of Education Foundation of Lake County. “This grant to help enhance the focus on mental health within the schools can have a far-reaching impact on the success of our students. We are grateful for his generosity.

Those interested in learning more or donating to the MIKE Endowment can do so at



About the Author: James Combs

James Combs was a pillar of Akers Media Group since its inception in 2008. Over the years, he had the honor of interviewing Lake & Sumter County's most fascinating personalities, from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans, bringing their incredible stories to life. Throughout his career, James earned over 50 awards for writing excellence, a testament to his talent and dedication. In 2021, he was inducted into the Akers Media Group Hall of Fame. Sadly, James passed away in 2023 after a courageous battle with cancer. His legacy of storytelling and excellence continues to inspire us all.

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