HELENA — The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) has received a $9,000,000 grant from the federal Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to support the Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education. The Montana Project AWARE Initiative will develop state infrastructure at the OPI and Montana DPHHS’ Children’s Mental Health Bureau to support school districts across Montana in developing Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for mental health promotion and response.

“Now more than ever, Montana must serve the social-emotional and mental health needs of our students,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen said Monday. “The OPI is committed to supporting Montana families and schools. This grant will allow us to expand our resources and services to Montana students.”

This grant will also fund three districts in Montana to implement evidence-based and culturally competent school mental health practices. The participating districts include Billings Public Schools, Dillon Public Schools K-8 Elementary District, and Rocky Boy School District.

The major goals of the grant are to increase the awareness and capacity of Montana school staff to prevent and respond to mental health issues using the Multi-Tiered Systems Framework. It is also to increase the capacity of the three districts in Montana to connect youth and their families to needed services.

“The Children’s Mental Health Bureau is eager to continue this important collaboration with the OPI to enhance mental health supports in Montana schools,” Meghan Peel, Children’s Mental Health Bureau Chief.

“The OPI is very fortunate to receive this grant for Montana a second time as we will be able to work with three more districts in the state to build much needed supports for schools, students and families.” Stated Holly Mook, Coordinated School Health Unit Director.

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