USF St. Petersburg Receives USD 2.2-Million Grant to Bolster Student Safety Through Mental Health Training
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla: Faculty and staff at Florida's K-12 schools will receive training on how to recognize and assist students with emotional or mental health difficulties thanks to a new USD 2.2-million grant awarded to USF St. Petersburg's College of Education.
USF St. Petersburg will work in conjunction with the Florida Department of Education to facilitate the statewide training program to help school personnel identify and understand the signs of emotional distress, mental health difficulties and substance abuse disorders. The program, which launches during the 2018-19 school year, will also provide teachers and other school staff the skills necessary to help students who are experiencing a crisis or mental health difficulties and connect them with resources.
"For decades, the issue of mental health in schools has been on a back burner," said Jordan Knab, Principal Investigator for USF St. Petersburg's College of Education. "People aren't always willing to talk about mental health issues."
The College of Education was selected to receive the grant in large part due to the university's experience with developing a network for student mental health services, Knab said. The new initiative is based on the Multiagency Service Network for Students with Severe Emotional Disturbance Administration Project (SEDNET), which is housed at USF St. Petersburg.
"We have a record of successful collaborative partnerships and educational projects with the Department of Education," Knab added.
Nickie Zenn, who has been serving as the Statewide Program Director for SEDNET will also be overseeing the new YMHAT training program, which she called a "CPR course for mental health."
Zenn said her hope is that the training will reduce the stigma associated with mental health and emotional difficulties and open up a broader conversation about the subject. It will also help connect mental health organizations with schools, offering more support and resources to assists students, schools and school-based mental health professionals.