Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA): Project AWARE

Youth Mental Health First Aid Training in Montgomery County Public Schools: Project AWARE


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Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

In the fall of 2014, Montgomery County Public Schools was awarded the “Now Is the Time” Project AWARE Grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Agency (SAMHSA).  We were 1 of 3 localities in the state and Virginia was 1 out of 20 states awarded this grant. Project AWARE hopes to advance educational effectiveness through connecting Virginia Tiered System of Supports and School Mental Health, and to better prepare school staff to be mental health first aiders through the Youth Mental Health First Aid program.  The goal of MCPS through VTSS and Project AWARE is to provide the best possible interventions and supports for students and families ensuring a path to academic, social and emotional success.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is an 8 hour training course designed to give members of the public key skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.   The evidence behind Mental Health First Aid demonstrates that it makes people feel more comfortable managing a crisis situation and builds mental health literacy — helping the public identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness.

Specifically, studies found that those who trained in Mental Health First Aid have greater confidence in providing help to others, greater likelihood of advising people to seek professional help, improved concordance with health professionals about treatments, and decreased stigmatizing attitudes.


The course teaches participants the risk factors and warning signs of a variety of mental health challenges common among adolescents, including anxiety, depression, psychosis, eating disorders, AD/HD, disruptive behavior disorders, and substance use disorder. Participants do not learn to diagnose, nor how to provide any therapy or counseling – rather, participants learn to support a youth developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or in an emotional crisis by applying a core five-step action plan.

The Youth Mental Health First Aid USA curriculum is primarily focused on information participants can use to help adolescents and transition-age youth, ages 12-18.


The course is designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents (teachers, school staff, coaches, youth group leaders, parents, etc.), but is being tested for appropriateness within older adolescent groups (16 and older) so as to encourage youth peer to peer interaction. In January 2013, President Obama recommended training for teachers in Mental Health First Aid. Since 2008, the core Mental Health First Aid course has been successfully offered to hundreds of thousands of people across the USA, including hospital staff, employers and business leaders, faith communities, law enforcement, and the general public.


Session dates for 2018-19 School Year from 8:00-5:00:

September 20th 
October 9th
November 13th
December 14th
January 17th
February 11th
March 12th
April 15th 
May 7th 

All trainings are being held in Conference Room A at the School Board Office. 

(Lunch break from 12:00-12:50/starting back promptly at 1:00 pm. Plan to bring your own lunch or to grab a quick bite locally.) 

Staff register on ERO (code is coun1424). Seating limited to 25/minimum 10 – beyond 25 will be wait listed. The 8 hour training = 10 professional development points.

If you are NOT MCPS staff and would like to attend, please email Jennifer Baldwin at

 Anyone working outside of contract hours during the summer trainings may receive a stipend for attending.  

Youth Mental Health First Aid is sponsored by Project AWARE grant funds.

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