Aaron was instrumental in helping a small nonprofit in Missouri to win a $625,000/ 5-year SAMHSA grant to increase mental health awareness among youth and adults.
Project IMAGINE, led by About Our Kids Youth, Inc. (AOK) will train train over 2,000 caring adults and high school students in Lamar, MO with the aim of significantly increasing mental health awareness and access to care.
An estimated 1,540 adults, including 130 teachers, will be trained in Mental Health First Aid (youth version); approximately 700 high school students will be trained in the teen Mental Health First (MHFA) Aid; approximately 27 EMTs will be trained in the first-responder version of MHFA and approximately 50 law enforcement officers will be trained in Crisis Intervention Teams (youth version). Each year between 438-526 individuals will receive training.
In addition to the provision of training, AOK will lead a consortium of community partners to establish a referral protocol – which will be followed by all individuals trained – to help navigate people (primarily youth) with suspected mental health issues/ illnesses to appropriate care within the community. The project also includes funding for a part-time (25%) Community Paramedic to assist with non-emergency care throughout the community. This is particularly important because Lamar is a 100% rural area with no free clinic within 47 miles and limited public transportation, so access to care and medications is often difficult for community members to access; the Community Paramedic will directly address this barrier to care.
Congratulations AOK Youth!