SYFS awarded grant for mental health first aid training


SYFS awarded grant for mental health first aid training
Congressman Jim McGovern (center), speaks at a press conference at Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services on Feb. 3. McGovern is flanked by state Sen. Mike Moore (left) and state Rep. Hannah Kane. (Photo/Bill Gilman)

SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services (SYFS) has received $250,000 in grant funding from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to expand its mental health first aid training program.

Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) made the official announcement Feb. 3, at a press conference at SYFS’ offices on Maple Avenue.

“We love and appreciate the work you do here,” said McGovern. “You’re not only putting people on the right path, you are literally saving lives.”

Also participating in the press conference were SYFS Executive Director Christine Mowry, state Sen. Mike Moore (D-Millbury), state Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), Chair of the Board of Directors Scott Wyman and members of the SYFS staff.

According to Mowry, the funding is part of a 4-year, $500,000 funding commitment from DHHS. Among other things, the grant has provided Mowry with the funds to hire Jammie Glenn as full-time project director for Mental Health Awareness Training and oversee and grow the program.

“This is a newly created position. We’re very excited to have Jammie joining us,” said Mowry.

SYFS began its mental health first aid training program back in 2015 with federal funding from DHHS. The program provides training for non-mental health professionals to be able to identify potential mental health issues in the people they interact with and help them learn how to interact with this group of people in a healthy, supportive way.

In 2019, SYFC began getting funding from the state for the program, which allowed the organization to expand the training statewide. Primarily, the training is geared toward teachers. However, slight modifications to the program have made it an effective training tool for anyone dealing with the public.

According to Mowry, SYFS has trained more than 6,000 people since the program began, including the roster of the Northborough Police Department and the staff at Shrewsbury Town Hall.

“We find this program to be so deeply impactful, because it really teaches laypeople, who are not mental health professionals, how to identify and intervene with a young person or an adult who might be showing symptoms of a mental health challenge,” said Mowry.

Mowry had originally written the grant request back in 2020. It was approved, but funding distribution had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial $250,000 will fund the first two years of the grant. The grant will then need to be renewed with $125,000 in 2025 and 2026.

She said she expects SYFS will now be able to train more than 1,000 people per year.

“We just want to see how we can make more of an impact and reach more of the population,” said Glenn.

For more information on Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, visit


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