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RELEASE: Congresswoman Matsui announces federal grants to expand Mental Health First Aid Programs in Sacramento

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Matsui announces that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded two Sacramento-based programs federal funding to expand their Mental Health First Aid training programs. ONTRACK Program Resources, Inc. and the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) will each be receiving over $115,000 of grant funding from the second phase of SAMHSA’s Project Aware Mental Health First Aid initiative.

“We must increase mental health awareness and knowledge in order to decrease stigma. It is critical that those working with youth know the signs of mental health crisis so that our youth can receive access to the care they need as soon as possible,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “This funding will allow these two programs to make important steps toward ensuring that those who work closely with our youth receive the training needed to respond appropriately to youth struggling with mental illness. Mental Health First Aid is currently being used with great success in Sacramento County, and these programs will build on this success.”

ONTRACK Program Resources will receive $125,000 for their Now Is the Time Project, which aims to increase mental health literacy through the training of teachers and a broad array of other individuals who interact with youth at a community level.  SCUSD will receive $118,593 for their Meadowview Project AWARE, which has similar goals.  Mental Health First Aid introduces people to risk factors and warning signs of mental health and substance use problems and teaches them a five-step action plan to help people in distress. It also gives people a tangible way to help others in a crisis.

“We are very excited to be awarded the Project AWARE grant which will allow us to increase awareness of the mental health issues our adolescents face and continue to build our capacity to provide our students & families with supports and resources” said Jaqueline Rodriguez, Coordinator II of SCUSD’s Student Support Services.

“Our project is a collaboration of 13 local youth serving agencies committed to advancing our community’s ability to respond to youth in mental health crisis. This project will target areas of our region where residents are disproportionately at risk for mental illness and substance abuse, racism, poverty, exposure to violence and other traumatic experiences. It is vital to bolster programs and systems with attention to protective influences, and abundant and well-coordinated community supports” said Madalynn Rucker, Executive Director of ONTRACK Program Resources.

Congresswoman Matsui has a history of bipartisan action on mental health, and has worked to bolster the full spectrum of behavioral health care. Congresswomen Matsui (D-CA) and Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) introduced the H.R. 1877, Mental Health First Aid Act in April 2015.  The bipartisan legislation would expand Mental Health First Aid training to help emergency services personnel, police officers, educators, and the public identify, understand, and respond to mental health issues and disorders.

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