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Tennessee AWARE

Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education

The Tennessee Department of Education received a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to expand youth access to mental health resources and promote resilience and positive behavioral functioning among school-age youth. The initiative defines three specific goals:

  1. Build state capacity to increase mental health awareness and access in schools and communities through the development of state and local policy as well as resource integration;
  2. Promote competency among child-serving adults to detect and respond to youth mental health concerns (Youth Mental Health First Aid); and
  3. Expand the continuum of school- and community-based behavioral health supports and interventions to more effectively respond to youth mental health needs and to keep youth in school and out of the juvenile justice system.

Tennessee AWARE established a state management team to support the integration of state and local policies and resources, expand and enhance the continuum of school-based mental health training, mental health services, and behavioral supports.

The department is partnering with Anderson County, Lawrence County, and Lauderdale County school systems to design and implement a framework that guides delivery of prevention, early intervention, and intensive school-based mental health services.

Specific school district prevention and intervention strategies include:

  1. Implement evidence-based prevention programs.
  2. Develop mental health awareness and outreach campaigns.
  3. Promote youth and family engagement strategies.
  4. Establish early identification and referral processes to connect youth to appropriate services.
  5. Place mental health clinicians in schools to deliver effective, targeted, and intensive interventions and referrals.
  6. Refine school discipline policies to reduce loss of student instructional time and removals from school due to suspension and expulsion.

Mental Health and Academic Achievement

If not addressed, mental health concerns can impact a young person’s ability to meet the cognitive demands for learning; social and personal needs for making friends and behaving according to school norms and expectations; and physical demands for activity throughout the school day. Additional information is available here.

Children’s Mental Health Data Brief

To learn about children’s mental health status in Tennessee compared to the United States, view this brief.

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Through the Tennessee AWARE grant, Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) training is available statewide. Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) introduces participants to the unique 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 who is in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. Additional information on YMHFA, is available here.

For additional information or to schedule a group YMHFA training, contact:

Janet Watkins, Tennessee AWARE Training Director
Tennessee Department of Education
Office of Safe and Supportive Schools
(615) 770-3874

Tennessee AWARE School District Demonstration Sites

Important Links

For more information about Tennessee AWARE, contact:

Sara Smith
Tennessee AWARE Director
(615) 253-4664