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Wisconsin School Districts Join Community Resources To Address Student Mental Health

5-Year Grant Funding Outreach And Training


Three Wisconsin school districts are turning to their communities to help better identify mental health issues among students and provide them with the care they need.

AWARE stands for Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education. Schools in Ashland, Adams-Friendship and Milwaukee are taking part in the five-year project.

Doug White directs the student services and prevention and wellness programs for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. He said schools are working to assess community and school needs related to mental health.

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“They’re also working to train school staff and other youth workers in recognizing the warning signs of youth that are having a mental health crisis and learning how best to assist them,” he said.

White said the goal is to create safer schools.

Adams-Friendship School District grant administrator Tom McEvilly said they’re looking at things like poverty rates and available treatment options to decide how they can best address the issue.

“The goal is to identify more students in need, to help direct them to services and help them receive services and to track that,” he said.

As part of that, McEvilly said 116 people, so far, have participated in eight-hour trainings to better understand mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

The project is funded by a five-year, $9.8 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.