School District Awarded Major Grant for Mental Health Training

School District Awarded Major Grant for Mental Health Training
Posted on 09/26/2018
School District Awarded Major Grant for Mental Health Training

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded a Mental Health Awareness Training (MHAT) Grant to the School District of Lee County in the amount of $375,000 over the next three years. The federal grant program will be administered through the National Institute of Health, Department of Health and Human Services and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The School District’s key partners will be SalusCare Behavioral Health, The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. These partners will work together to provide high-quality mental health awareness training to 700 staff, families, and community members serving high-need schools over three years.

The grant (titled Project SUCCESS, “Schools Using Collective Community Engagement for Student Success”) is intended to improve the health and well-being of over 11,000 students and their families in east Lee County where access to mental health resources is limited. The project will prepare adults who work with youth to identify early warning signs of problem behaviors, provide resources, and make appropriate referrals to school professionals and community agencies. The training will also prepare adults to help de-escalate crisis situations faced by children and youth.

Lori Brooks and Mary Lynn Rodriguez, the District’s key administrators for school counseling services, will oversee the partnership grant project. They will now convene the project partners and stakeholders, and begin the training sessions this fall.

“Our community partners will help us provide real and lasting benefits to students,” Brooks said. “With this training, many adults who work with children will learn how to reduce social stigma, increase self-seeking behaviors in our youth, and reduce risk factors.”

“We know that approximately 20% of teenagers experience mental health challenges serious enough to disrupt them in their home lives and in their school lives,” Brooks said. “Of these, two-thirds receive no mental health services, putting them at risk for long-term challenges. Through this grant, youth that attend identified schools will have the means to enhanced connections for preventative mental health.”