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Institute for Rural Mental Health Initiatives receives grant to train first contact personnel

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Dr. Steve Bain

Dr. Steve Bain

KINGSVILLE (May 3, 2024) — When mental health issues arise in children, parents or even teachers are not the first to notice. Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the King Ranch Family Trust, TAMUK’s Institute for Rural Mental Health Initiatives (IRMHI) will be training local school personnel how to recognize when a child may be in trouble. The program called “First Contact” is an innovative professional development with non-educator professionals in mind.


“First Contact training is designed specifically toward non-academic personnel or Education Support Professionals such as bus drivers, custodians, front office workers, food service personnel and parent volunteers who often observe potential mental health issues in students before classroom teachers or school counselors,” said Dr. Steve Bain, founding director of the IRMHI.


Thanks to the King Ranch Family Trust grant, “First Contact will be a free two-hour professional development program designed to help these support personnel develop further skills and capacities to engage students who may be suffering from mental health stressors,” he added. “Attendees will work through personal learning activities that show them when, how and whom to report their concerns.”


A second part of the grant purpose is grief and loss initiatives. “Because rural school districts are seeing an exponential increase in the numbers of students who are suffering grief and loss, the IRMHI will provide direct grief support groups and training designed to augment the lack of grief counseling within these school districts,” Bain said.


The counties that will be served by both initiatives include Brooks, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg and Willacy.


In addition to the $50,000 from the King Ranch Family Trust, the IRMHI also received $18,000 from the Coastal Bend Community Foundation and $30,000 from Healthy South Texas.


Category: Edu/Kines , General Univ

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