Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services awarded grant from Project AWARE Community


Shrewsbury- Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services (SYFS) recently announced that it has been awarded a three -year Project AWARE-Community grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to support the training of a diverse group of adults in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA).

This training will help adults detect and respond to mental illness in youth in the Grafton, Northborough, Shrewsbury, Southborough, West Boylston, Westborough, and Worcester area. YMHFA is a public education program that introduces participants to the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems and builds an understanding of the importance of early intervention. Participants are introduced to local mental health resources, national organizations, support groups, and online tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support

“Childhood and teenage years are a critical time for the onset of emotional and behavioral disorders. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and astonishingly 75 percent by age 24,” said Terry Cassidy, SYFS executive director. “One in five adolescents is living with a mental health condition. Research has demonstrated time and again that the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome. Early detection, assessment and linkage to treatment providers can significantly improve a young person’s future. We are excited about this project because it will help adults to increase their awareness of mental health issues and help young people get the assistance they need.”

By implementing YMHFA, SYFS expects to see an increase in the mental health literacy of adults who interact with youth and increase awareness of mental health issues among these youth. The overall goal of Project AWARE Community is to expand the community’s capacity to increase awareness of mental health issues and connect youth with behavioral health issues to needed services. The program’s objectives include increasing the mental health literacy of adults, increasing the capacity of adults to respond to behavioral health issues impacting youth, and conducting outreach and engagement strategies to increase awareness of and promote positive behavioral health.

SYFS’s mission is to strengthen and enhance the lives of those living in the community by working in collaboration to provide counseling, education and prevention services. The agency provides an array of services including counseling, positive youth development programs, case management and assistance for disadvantaged individuals.

SYFS will be offering training sessions for adults that work with youth and/or parents who would like to increase their awareness and learn about mental health first aid.

For more information on SYFS visit or call 508-845-6932.