Department one of 120 state agencies awarded funding
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov 7, 2014) – The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has received a five-year, $8.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support teachers, schools and communities in recognizing and responding to mental health concerns among youth.
KDE was one of 120 state and local educational agencies awarded an Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education (AWARE) grant. In addition to KDE, grants were awarded to the Jefferson County, Fayette County, Corbin Independent, Covington Independent and Henderson County school districts and the Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services.
“The most important element of preparing students for success is ensuring safe and secure settings where children and youth can focus on learning,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “Kentucky AWARE will allow Kentucky schools to create safer and more respectful environments for learning, promote the behavioral health of school- aged children and youth, and help ensure that we reach our goals aimed at improving educational results and outcomes for all students.”
While the effort is statewide, Kentucky AWARE initially will be piloted in three school districts – Jefferson County, Fayette County and Pulaski County public schools.
The initiative will focus on two components. The first component will involve providing local communities with increased access to school- and community-based mental health services through improved coordination of state and local policies and resources. A state management team of stakeholders will be created to coordinate state and local policies and resources.
The second component of the program will involve training school personnel, first responders, and other adults who interact with school-age youth to detect and respond to mental health needs, including how to encourage adolescents and their families to seek and obtain treatment.
In addition to increasing mental health literacy through Youth Mental Health First Aid training, KDE is committed to developing a state-wide awareness and greater depth of understanding of trauma as the unrecognized basis for many youth mental health issues and behavior problems. The Kentucky AWARE grant will initiate trauma-informed care training for school personnel with a focus on creating sustainable training and service initiatives.
The Kentucky AWARE grant will be used by KDE and local school districts to train school staff and other community members in Mental Health First Aid, an eight-hour course that teaches people to identify the signs of mental illnesses and addictions, provide initial help, and connect with appropriate care in crisis. Since 2008, more than 250,000 individuals in the U.S. – including school personnel, police officers, faith leaders, health care professionals and human resources managers have completed the Mental Health First Aid course.
The statewide Kentucky AWARE grant will assist in fulfilling a critical need to increase Kentucky’s capacity to implement, improve and sustain the delivery of effective services for school-aged youth and their families.
The AWARE grants are among $99 million in grants recently awarded by HHS, which included training for new mental health providers to increase access to mental health services for young people. All funds were included in President Obama’s Now is the Time plan to reduce gun violence, increase access to mental health services, and increase school safety.