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Faculty & Staff Honors

Georgia State to Provide Mental Health First Aid Training for State’s Youth

Georgia State University’s School of Public Health has received a five-year, $800,000 contract from the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) to coordinate Youth Mental Health First Aid Training (YMHFA ) and other professional development efforts designed to improve services for Georgia’s youth.

The School’s Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD) will run the program, which will teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens to help adolescents ages 12-18 who are experiencing behavioral health or addiction challenges or other crises.

The CLD’s contract is funded as part of Georgia Project AWARE, a $10 million grant recently awarded to the GaDOE and its partners by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Georgia Project AWARE will assist three school districts (Muscogee County, Newton County and Griffin-Spaulding) and local mental health providers in blending education and mental health systems to provide a seamless framework of prevention and intervention in a multi-tiered framework.

As part of this effort, the CLD will oversee implementation and evaluation of the training program for more than 350 educators and community members each year. CLD trainers will also provide professional development sessions on cultural competence in mental health services for school psychologists, school counselors and other student service providers in each participating school district. The CLD will coordinate identification and implementation of a mental health screener in each school district.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to contribute to Georgia Project AWARE,” said Dr. Andrew Roach, CLD associate director and coordinator for the training contract.

“Providing YMHFA training is an important component of this coordinated effort to improve mental health services for children and adolescents across the state. Community members who complete the eight-hour training will be better prepared to support young people who show symptoms of mental health difficulties until appropriate professional help can be engaged. Just like regular first aid supports an individual experiencing a medical emergency until paramedics can arrive, YMHFA can make a real difference for young people experiencing a mental health crisis.”

The Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State is one of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Since 2008, it has been housed within the Center for Healthy Development at the School of Public Health. Its mission is to translate research into sustainable community practices that contribute to independent, self-determined, inclusive and productive lives for people with disabilities and their families.

To learn more about the work of the Center for Leadership in Disability, go to: