WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), along with U.S. Representatives John Larson (CT-1), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Jim Himes (CT-4), and Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) announced that three Connecticut organizations have been awarded nearly $375,000 as part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) “Now is the Time” Project AWARE-Community grant program. The grant money will support the training of teachers and a variety of other individuals who interact with youth at the community level – including parents, law enforcement, faith-based leaders, and other adults –in Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid. The goal of the program is to increase the mental health literacy among youth-serving adults, policymakers, and administrators.

“We’re very pleased to see this grant money go to three great Connecticut organizations dedicated to building a more responsive mental health system in Connecticut,” the delegation said. “Too many children with mental health needs do not get the timely, quality care they deserve and ultimately half of those with psychiatric diagnoses drop out of school. For the most affluent country in the world, that is unacceptable and we have an obligation to fix it. This funding will address signs of mental illness among children and make our communities a more compassionate place for kids to grow and learn.”

Connecticut’s Wheeler Clinic, Inc. will receive $125,000 to serve Hartford and Middlesex Counties, the Mental Health Association of Connecticut will receive $125,000 to serve Litchfield County, and Education Connection will receive $124,998 to serve Northwest Connecticut.  

Earlier this year, Murphy, Blumenthal, and Esty introduced the Jesse Lewis Empowering Educators Act, legislation to provide teachers with the tools and training they need to support students’ social and emotional learning. Blumenthal, along with U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), introduced the Mental Health First Aid Act, which would expand mental health first aid training. Murphy, along with U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), is the co-author of the Mental Health Reform Act, America’s first comprehensive bipartisan effort to strengthen our nation’s mental health care delivery system in years. Also earlier this year, Courtney and Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) introduced the Ensuring Children’s Access to Specialty Care Act, which would enable pediatric subspecialists including psychiatrists to participate in the National Health Service Corps program. DeLauro is the senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding SAMHSA.