EAST PROVIDENCE – Emma Pendleton Brady Hospital has been awarded a five-year, $8.6 million federal grant to help provide mental and behavioral health services in schools across the state, Gov. Daniel J. McKee, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, R.I. Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green and R.I. Department of Children, Youth and Families Acting Director Kevin Aucoin announced Friday.
The funding, from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will support Bradley Hospital in participating in the Project Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education – or Project AWARE – partnership with DCYF and the R.I. Department of Education. State officials say the project’s purpose is to increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youths and to provide training for school personnel to detect mental health issues, respond to them, and connect the affected students’ families to needed services.
The funding will help continue running Project AWARE programs in schools in Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket for four more years, state officials said. The program in these districts, state officials say, will annually impact more than 35,000 students and 3,000 school personnel as the partners implement professional and paraprofessional training, mental health-related promotions, awareness, prevention, intervention and resilience activities to ensure that students have access and are connected to appropriate and effective behavioral health services.
In a statement, Bradley Hospital President Dr. Henry Sachs said too many children and young adults are dealing with varying mental health issues, such as depression, addiction and substance uses, that is impacting their well-being. He said it is “imperative” that schools are supported in having “culturally-competent and developmentally appropriate mental wellness programs that can connect students in need to effective behavioral health services and interventions.”
“Even before the [COVID-19] pandemic, national data showed a rising prevalence of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, suicide and other concerns,” Infante-Green said in a statement. “Rhode Island has made major strides breaking down barriers to access, but there is still more work to be done so effective mental health care reaches all students, regardless of their zip code.”