Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education is a five-year federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA) awarded to the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) in September 2020. The purpose of this grant is to build or expand the capacity of the state in partnership with the State Mental Health Agency, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) overseeing school-aged youth and with three local school districts to:
- Increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth
- Provide training for school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged youth to detect and respond to mental health issues
- Connect school-aged youth, who may have behavioral health issues and their families to needed services.
GaDOE is partnering with Bibb County Schools AWARE, and Hall County Schools Project AWARE and Houston Schools AWARE to provide training in Youth Mental Health First Aid and to develop processes and procedures for connecting youth and families to community based and school-based mental health Services. Georgia State University (Center for Leadership in Disability) is providing training and the evaluation for Georgia Project AWARE.
The goals of the AWARE-SEA are:
- To increase and improve access to appropriate school and community-based mental health services
- Develop school-based mental health programs staffed by behavioral health specialists to screen for, provide early intervention for, and to address any ongoing mental health needs of children with and youth.
- Conduct outreach and engagement with school-aged youth and their families to increase awareness and identification of mental health issues and to promote positive mental health
- Connect families, and schools and communities to increase engagement and involvement in planning and implementing school and community programs for school-aged youth.
- Help school-aged youth develop skills that will promote resilience and promote pro-social behaviors; avert development of mental and behavioral health disorders; and prevent youth violence
- Equip schools with the ability to immediately respond to the needs of youth who may be exhibiting behavioral/psychological signs of a severity indicating the need for clinical intervention.
- Develop an infrastructure that will sustain and expand mental health and behavioral health services and supports for school-aged youth when federal funding ends.
This is the second Project AWARE grant to be awarded to GaDOE. The first was awarded in 2014 and the school districts partnered with were Griffin-Spalding and Muscogee and Newton County Schools.