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Georgia receives $9.5 million to help schools address mental health

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 541-7358,, or Meghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 656-5594,


February 6, 2015 – The Georgia Department of Education announced today it will expand its efforts to help schools better identify and respond to mental health issues among students. A new initiative, Georgia Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education), will address the mental health needs of children, youth, families, caregivers and communities, and support the implementation of mental health training at the state and local levels. This work is made possible by a $9.5 million grant ($1.9 million per year, for five years) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Georgia State University is partnering with the GaDOE to provide technical assistance, training, and evaluation.


“In addition to academic knowledge, students in our care need social and emotional support,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “This grant will help us do a better job of providing the support our students need. We’re excited for the work to begin.”


Over the next five years, the grant will support the rollout of Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training in school districts statewide. This training will equip school personnel, first responders and other adults interacting with school-aged children with the tools they need to detect and respond to mental illness in children, youth, and young adults – and to encourage adolescents and families experiencing these problems to seek and receive treatment.


Georgia Project AWARE will also fund further work in three school districts – Griffin-Spalding, Muscogee, and Newton. In those districts, a wide-ranging group of stakeholders – students, parents, educators, mental health providers, law enforcement officials, juvenile justice agencies and other community-based organizations – will develop and implement a comprehensive plan that promotes mental health and a safe and supportive school climates. All three districts are implementing Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS).


These three districts will also build their capacity to put violence prevention strategies and safe school policies into practice, and develop partnerships with local behavioral health providers and children’s organizations.


Two more Georgia school districts – Fulton County and Rockdale County – have received separate, local Project AWARE grants. These grants are meant to improve the mental health literacy of adults who interact with students, and raise awareness of youth mental health issues. These districts, along with the Griffin-Spalding, Muscogee, and Newton teams, will be invited to serve on the State Management Team for Georgia Project AWARE.​