NC Project AWARE/ACTIVATE Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education/ Advancing Coordinated and Timely InterVentions, Awareness, Training, and Education


Promising Practice

NC Project AWARE/ACTIVATE Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education/ Advancing Coordinated and Timely InterVentions, Awareness, Training, and Education

State/JurisdictionSettingPopulationTopic AreaNPMs
North CarolinaSchool-BasedChild Health, Adolescent HealthMental Health, Substance Use9

Project ACTIVATE (Advancing Coordinated and Timely InterVentions, Awareness, Training, and Education) is North Carolina's implementation of the Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) State Education Agency Grant issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). NC Project AWARE/ACTIVATE addresses the three tiers of mental health (promotion, prevention, and intervention) through a continuum of education, universal screening, and appropriate services and supports for all students in response to varying levels of need.

Recognizing the interrelatedness of academic outcomes and mental health/well-being of students Project AWARE/ACTIVATE seeks to provide an embedded approach within an existing system (schools) versus fragmented and reactive approaches. Project AWARE/ACTIVATE promotes innovative service delivery based on the recommendations of the NC School Mental Health Initiative for equitable access to high quality and well-coordinated mental health and substance abuse services including 1) continuum of supports and services, 2) strategies to foster sustainability, and 3) engagement of all stakeholders. Project AWARE/ACTIVATE aims to provide NC students in grades PK-12 with access to universal screening and supplemental support based on behavioral or psychological measures of school engagement using evidence-based practices within the classroom and school settings.

The purpose of this program is to build or expand the capacity of State Educational Agencies, in partnership with State Mental Health Agencies overseeing school-aged youth, and with local education agencies (LEAS), to: (1) increase awareness of mental health issues among school-aged youth; (2) provide training for school personnel and other adults who interact with school-aged youth to detect and respond to mental health issues; and (3) connect school-aged youth, who may have behavioral health issues (including serious emotional disturbance [SED] or serious mental illness [SMI]), and their families to needed services. The AWARE/ACTIVATE program supports the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan of activities, services, and strategies to decrease youth violence and support the healthy development of school-aged youth. This program builds upon the successful strategies of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) Initiative that have been effective in creating safe and secure schools and promoting the mental health of students in communities across the country. These strategies include facilitating a closer relationship between state and local implementation of policies and programs, and supporting the development of integrated systems that create safe and respectful environments for learning and promote the mental health of school-aged youth.

The goals of AWARE/ACTIVATE are:

• Increase and improve access to culturally competent and developmentally appropriate school- and community-based mental
health services, particularly for children and youth with SED or SMI.
• Develop school-based mental health programs staffed by behavioral health specialists (psychologists, advance practice nurses,
counselors, clinical social workers), in order to screen for, provide early intervention for, and to address any ongoing mental health
needs of, children with symptoms consistent with a mental disorder(s) or SED.
• Conduct outreach and engagement with school-aged youth and their families to increase awareness and identification of mental
health issues and to promote positive mental health.
• Connect families, schools, and communities, to increase engagement and involvement in planning and implementing school and
community programs for school-aged youth.
• Help school-aged youth develop skills that will promote resilience and promote pro-social behaviors; avert development of mental
and behavioral health disorders; and prevent youth violence.
• Equip schools with the ability to immediately respond to the needs of youth who may be exhibiting behavioral/psychological signs
of a severity indicating the need for clinical intervention.
• Develop an infrastructure that will sustain and expand mental health and behavioral health services and supports for school-aged
youth when federal funding ends.


contact information

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
Heidi E. Austin, EdD, MCHES, CFLE
heidi.austin@dpi.nc.gov
(984) 236-2563

Project Website