The purpose of Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness & Resiliency in Education) is to promote the healthy development of school-aged youth and to prevent youth violence. This five-year grant (2019-2024) supports a collaboration between the New Hampshire Department of Education, SAU #34, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, and community partners in which all stakeholders will work together to develop district-level Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS-B). Through this system of support, we endeavor 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; and connect school-aged youth who may have behavioral health issues (including serious emotional disturbance (SED) or serious mental illness (SMI)) and their families to needed services.
Among the goals of the project are:
- Increase and improve access to culturally competent and developmentally appropriate school- and community-based mental health services;
- Develop school-based mental health programs staffed by behavioral health specialists (psychologists, advance practice nurses, counselors, clinical social workers) to screen for, provide early intervention for and to address any ongoing mental health needs of children with symptoms consistent with a mental disorder(s) and/or serious emotional disturbance;
- 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, 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; and
- Develop an infrastructure that will sustain and expand mental health and behavioral helath services and supports for school-aged youth when federal (Project AWARE) funding ends.