Teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) is a training program for teens (grades 10-12) supported by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. The program addresses common mental health challenges, provides an Action Plan to help friends and peers who may be facing a mental health challenge, or crisis such as suicide. It teaches them how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. It also gives them the skills needed to have supportive conversations with their friends and get a responsible and trusted adult to take over as necessary. It is a train the trainer program and is designed to be delivered in schools in three interactive classroom sessions of 90 minutes each or six sessions of 45 minutes each.
In partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Ending the Silence is an engaging 50-minute presentation that helps middle and high school students learn about the warning signs of mental health conditions and what steps to take if they or a loved one are showing symptoms of a mental health condition. The presentations include two leaders: one who shares an informative presentation and a young adult with a mental health condition who shares their journey of recovery. Students can ask questions and gain understanding. Research has shown that this program is effective in changing students’ knowledge and attitudes toward mental health conditions and toward seeking help.
Mindful Peer Exchange
Providing students with the knowledge they need to recognize traits and behaviors that make them more resilient in facing a mental health challenge is important. In partnership with Florida International University (FIU), the Mindful Peer Exchange program pairs FIU students (those pursuing a degree in a mental health-related field) with classes of high school students. The FIU students research and prepare an age-appropriate, research-based presentation including facts and myths of teen mental health challenges and how to seek assistance for themselves or others when they need help and ensure they know how to get the help. This program is a win/win for both the university student presenters and the student learners.
The partnership between Positive Coaching Alliance, the Miami Marlins, and M-DCPS provides a comprehensive research-based training program to support positive youth development and social and emotional wellness for M-DCPS student-athletes (grades 6-12). The program is a catalyst for enhancing the education and training of student-athletes, coaches, parents, and school leadership by promoting a positive culture.
Mental Wellness Clubs
In an ongoing effort to continue to involve students in promoting mental health awareness and education across M-DCPS, the Department of Mental Health Services established and implemented Mental Wellness Clubs for all schools grades K-12. These clubs are not support groups, but rather are designed to provide a bridge between school and community resources and to afford students an opportunity to spearhead initiatives and lead projects based on mental health/wellness to help reduce stigma.
SEL Strong is a newly designed program to support and educate students on topics that may have adversely impacted them during the COVID-19 pandemic. School-based seminars and roundtable discussions for students grades 6 -12 are thoroughly planned and incorporated above and beyond the school day to address social, emotional, and mental health/wellness topics. Seminars are led and facilitated in collaboration with district and school staff as well as community partners and organizations.
Mindfulness Champion Initiative
The Mindfulness Champions Initiative is a partnership amongst M-DCPS, the Miami Heat, Florida Blue, and Mindful Kids Miami for all schools’ grades K-12. Each school has a champion trained by Mindful Kids Miami to lead mindful practices and activities throughout the school to support the social, emotional, and mental well-being of students and staff. This initiative is also designed to help strengthen emotional resilience, feelings of well-being, and serve as a foundation to expand the integration of mindfulness practices throughout each school.
M.A.S.T.E.R Mind and Heart School Awards
The Mental Awareness Success Takes Everyone’s Responsibility, Mind and Heart School Awards is a new initiative established by the Department of Mental Health Services to help further cultivate and support a positive and nurturing learning environment in all schools K-12 and their surrounding community. An application, rubric/criteria has been established for schools to have an opportunity to apply for any one of the three awards: MASTER Mind School, MASTER Heart School, and MASTER Mind and Heart School.
Brain Power Wellness (BPW) applies research-based SEL activities rooted in neuroscience, mindfulness training, and brain-based holistic wellness to help every member of the school community improve mental health, social-emotional wellness, and overall achievement. Students and staff learn how to take physical and mental brain breaks, mindful practices, and social-emotional wellness strategies that support a positive classroom environment to create a sustainable, healthy, happy, and focused environment.