The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2014 Now is the Time Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) State Educational Agency Program (NITT-AWARE-SEA) cooperative agreements. The purpose of the NITT-AWARE-SEA Cooperative Agreement program is to build and expand the capacity of State Educational Agencies 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 in children and young adults, and connect children, youth, and families who may have behavioral health issues with appropriate services. The intent of NITT-AWARE-SEA is to develop a comprehensive, coordinated, and integrated program for advancing wellness and resilience in educational settings for school-aged youth. The President’s Plan can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/wh_now_is_the_time_full.pdf.
The NITT-AWARE-SEA program supports the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan of activities, services, and strategies to decrease youth violence and promote the healthy development of children and youth. This program builds upon the successful strategies of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) Initiative that, for over a decade, have proven to be successful in creating safe and secure schools and promoting the mental health of students in communities across the country. These strategies include facilitating a closer relationship between state policy and local implementation of policies and programs and supporting the development and coordination of integrated systems that create safe and respectful environments for learning and promote the behavioral health of school-aged children and youth. This approach to early identification, referral and systems development both in the school and community will allow SEAs to made strides in significantly advancing the mental health of the Nation’s most valuable asset, its children. The intent of the NITT-AWARE-SEA grant is to build cross system capacity to effectively utilize the growing body of knowledge learned from prevention and implementation science for the purpose of supporting expanded adoption of similar approaches in states.
America’s schools should be safe and secure settings where school-aged children can focus on learning and develop their full potentials, thereby helping them stay on a positive trajectory that will support academic success and help them to graduate and become productive citizens. As a nation we need to continually ensure that schools can be safe and healthy environments where our children and youth can learn and develop.
Schools play a critical role in ensuring that behavioral problems are identified early so that young people can grow and thrive in a healthy environment. Schools can lead coordination efforts in bringing youth-serving agencies together to guarantee that children, youth, and families can easily access services that are community based, child centered, family focused, and culturally and linguistically competent. Left untreated, childhood mental and emotional disorders can lead to poor outcomes in school, limited employment opportunities, and other negative economic impacts in adulthood.
Education about mental health includes an understanding about the importance of mental health; the relationship between mental health and improved overall health; precipitating factors, signs, and symptoms of mental distress; the prevention of mental and substance use disorders; and how communities and schools can support our nation’s youth by getting them the help they need.
As more people and particularly youth experience mental distress, there is a need for increased mental health literacy and basic mental health training programs for the public and those working with youth. At times, mental health services are not provided to children who need them despite a national focus on the need for early identification of mental illness. Reasons include failure to recognize problems, fear of negative attitudes and discrimination, and lack of resources (Cowell 2013). Adolescents are particularly dependent on adults for recognition of mental health problems, provision of appropriate support and referrals to help (Jorm, Kitchener, Sawyer 2010). Developing the appropriate social support system has been shown to reduce the risk of developing mental, emotional and behavioral disorders (Jorm, Kitchener, Sawyer 2010).
NITT-AWARE-SEA will also support building cross-system capacity for comprehensive approaches in states and communities. It can assist by expanding state capacity to collect and utilize population data in order to develop and implement science informed policies and programs in schools and communities to ensure comprehensive approaches to create safe and supportive schools that address the mental health needs of young people. This will also include broadening efforts to coordinate and integrate across service systems including education, mental health, juvenile justice and law enforcement and supporting the development of approaches to integrate state and local comprehensive plans for infrastructure, services, and supports focused on the well-being and healthy development of children, youth, and young adults.
NITT-AWARE-SEA has two components:
Component 1: Address the Mental Health Needs of Children, Youth, Families/Caregivers and Communities:
Component 1 builds off of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) model to support the enhanced coordination and integration of mental, emotional, and behavioral health services. It is expected that Component 1 will provide local communities with increased access to school and community based mental health services through improved coordination of state and local policies and resources. Further, it is expected the NITT-AWARE-SEA will assist states in identifying strategies to access existing funding mechanisms to further support the provision of mental health services for school-aged youth. Grantees will receive up to $1.7 million per year (87 percent of the total grant award) for Component 1. Not less than 75 percent of Component 1 funding must be used to support LEA activities, not less than 15 percent of funding must be used to support SEA activities, and not more than 10 percent of funding can be used for evaluation activities.
Component 2: Implement Mental Health First Aid/Youth Mental Health First Aid: State and Local Training Programs:
Component 2 is intended to train school personnel, emergency first responders, and other adults who interact with school-aged youth to detect and respond to mental illness in children, youth and young adults, including how to encourage adolescents and families experiencing these problems to seek and obtain treatment by widespread dissemination of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)/Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). There are two types of Mental Health First Aid courses -- adult and youth. The adult MHFA course is appropriate for individuals, 18 years of age and older. The adult curriculum is available in both Spanish and English.
Youth MHFA, as distinguished from the Adult MHFA curriculum, is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, emergency responders, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis.
Because some jurisdictions may have a significant number of students over the age of 18, applicants should select whichever course is developmentally appropriate for the specific populations of focus. Mental Health First Aid USA is managed, operated, and disseminated by the National Council for Behavioral Health, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. Applicants may contact these three authorities to train and certify instructors.
It is expected that MHFA/YMHFA will increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth, and increase the ability of adults within the LEA and community to appropriately intervene and support youth in crisis. Grantees will receive up to $236,000 per year (13 percent of the grant award) for Component 2.) The SEA may retain up to 100 percent of Component 2 funding for implementing the MHFA/YMHFA training activities.
NITT AWARE– SEA grantees will be expected to involve families in the development and implementation of the grant activities.
In an effort to maximize funding under this announcement, applicants must demonstrate how they will build on, enhance, and not duplicate current activities should they receive funding under SAMHSA’s LEA grant program.
NITT-AWARE-SEA cooperative agreements are authorized under Section 520A of the Public Health Service Act, as amended. This announcement addresses Healthy People 2020 Mental Health and Mental Disorders Topic Area HP 2020-MHMD.