Memphis-Shelby County Schools recently received the SAMSHA Project AWAREGrant Award. The Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) grant will bring universal prevention and wellness promotion, early identification, targeted intervention, and treatment to the students of MSCS and the surrounding community.
According to Education Commission research, there are several positive impacts of mental health programming in K-12 educational settings, including improvements in students’ overall health, academic, and social outcomes (2021). Furthermore, an effective and integrated mental health system in schools can result in a variety of positive outcomes for schools and communities, including improved school climates and safety, reduced exclusionary discipline, and improved engagement among youth, families, and educators."
A few of the goals are to establish Mental Health Youth Councils “AWARE Youth Councils” at high schools, allowing students to express their opinions, lead activities and receive follow-up training related to suicide prevention. School-based staff with appropriate school roles (e.g., counselors, social workers, trauma coaches and advisors) and training (e.g., YMHFA and SOS) will be recruited to lead these youth councils in an after-school format.
The other goal is to increase awareness regarding the Family Wellness Centers and the services that are available for our youth and families. The Project AWARE grant will assist with prevention and awareness, early intervention, and treatment. Community partners that are currently working with the grant include the University of Memphis SMART Center, which will provide telehealth services and the University of Tennessee Center for Youth and Well-Being will provide trauma-informed support including but not limited to psychiatry.
Project AWARE Expected Outcomes: (AWARE Youth Council outcomes are bolded)
Increase mental health awareness to reduce stigma and promote help-seeking for mental health among school-aged youth.
Increase the mental health literacy of individuals who interact with school-aged youth to understand and detect the signs and symptoms of mental illness, substance use/misuse, and co-occurring disorders.
Promote and foster resilience building and mental health well-being for all school-aged youth.
Provide positive behavioral health support; targeted services to those who need more support; and intensive services to those who need them.
Connect school-aged youth who may have behavioral health issues, including families, to needed services.
Increase and improve access to culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate, and trauma-informed school and community-based AWARE grant activities and services.
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Counseling and Social Emotional Supportsare available for MSCS students.