ADAMHS wins $1.2 million federal grant to address children’s mental health needs.
The Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Montgomery County isn’t just an advocate for mental wellness, it’s a driver of change. Founded in 1968, this government organization has been a longtime asset to the region, focusing on prevention, training, treatment and support in the categories of mental health and addiction.
“Mental health, suicide prevention, trauma awareness – those are always evolving, and unless you have somebody like ADAMHS, which is really focused in those areas, you’re going to be behind the latest opportunity to impact kids in the most effective ways,” says Monnie Bush, who is the founder and CEO of Victory Project, a Dayton after-school program that mentors young men in grades 8 through 12.
Today, thanks to a $1.2 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ADAMHS is doubling down on its prevention strategies.
While the grant’s primary purpose is to address the mental health needs of young Black males, ADAMHS matched the award to look at the needs of children across the spectrum.
“The reason we’re doing that is we’ve seen an increase in the number of youngsters who are attempting to or claiming their own lives,” says Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of ADAMHS. “So we decided we wanted to look, as early as possible, for any signs or factors that might lead to them having suicidal thoughts and really try to address any propensity for mental unwellness as they move through the school system.”
Through the grant, the organization is working with Dayton Children’s Hospital to administer a screening that determines a child’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) score. The higher the score, the more likely a child is to face certain health issues, such as anxiety, depression or suicide attempts, later in life.
“From that questioning, you can determine if a child is already experiencing a level of depression or any levels of mental unwellness, and you can put them into a treatment program, or refer them for other services,” Jones-Kelley says. “We’re talking about activities that can be created to help a youngster develop levels of resiliency and self-esteem that will be protective factors for them as they continue to grow and live in that environment.”
In addition to helping individual children, ADAMHS is using the information gathered to identify gaps in the region where services are needed, including which county systems or nonprofits can help address those issues.
“Montgomery County is known for its collaboration. Nothing happens successfully without coming together with the community,” Jones-Kelley adds. “We recognize that it takes all hands on deck, so our system delivery is built around a collective impact.”
To learn more about ADAMHS, go to mcadamhs.org.