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Project AWARE
(Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education)

The South Dakota Department of Education was awarded an $8.7 million Project AWARE grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant is a partnership with the South Dakota Department of Social Services. The departments are partnering with school districts and community mental health centers to improve access to mental health services, train educational professionals, increase family and community awareness, and help youth develop healthy behavioral skills and mental wellness.

The program is built on an interconnected systems framework, the base of which is home and community awareness, with the goals of de-stigmatizing mental health issues through awareness training, building self-healing, trauma-informed communities, and creating community partnerships.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Train the Trainer event, fall 2019

Youth Mental Health First Aid Train the Trainer event, fall 2019


Pilot Partnerships
The first cohort of participants began receiving behavior and mental health supports through the grant in October 2018:
Framework

The Project AWARE grant is built on an interconnected systems framework, the base of which is home and community awareness, with the goals of de-stigmatizing mental health issues through awareness training, building self-healing, trauma-informed communities, and creating community partnerships.

Tier 1: Universal prevention, incorporating universal behavioral health screenings and support for school/home partnerships, trauma-informed training for school staff, Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, and other prevention activities

Tier 2: Targeted interventions, such as one-to-one or small group interventions

Tier 3: Supports for students in need of wraparound services

Evidence-Based Services/Programming

A series of evidence-based practices and programming have been identified to address each step of the multi-tiered systems of support for South Dakota Project AWARE. These practices and programming include the following:

  • NAMI Ending the Silence Program
    This training is available to all South Dakota schools at no cost. NAMI-SD (National Alliance on Mental Illness-South Dakota) is a partner in the Project AWARE grant and offers this 50-minute program, which is appropriate for middle and high school students. In the presentation, a young adult living with a mental illness tells their story about mental health challenges, including what hurt and what helped, and how they are living in recovery. A lead presenter also shares information that helps students understand mental health conditions and warning signs, as well as how to talk to caring adults to get help for themselves and their friends. Questions? Contact Mallory Flanigan, South Dakota’s Ending the Silence coordinator, at 605-271-1871.
  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support
  • Second Step Curriculum
  • Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener
  • Sources of Strength
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid
    This training is available to all South Dakota schools at no cost. Designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents (teachers, administrators, coaches), this eight-hour program introduces participants to the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. YMHFA meets the suicide awareness and prevention training requirement for educator certification. To request a Youth Mental Health First Aid training for your school, complete this form. Questions? Contact Jana Sprenger at DSS’s Division of Behavioral Health, 605-367-5236.

For more information, contact Project Coordinator Teresa Rowland with the SD Department of Education.