Project AWARE

Project AWARE logo

Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education):

By expanding capacity, the grant-funded program advances wellness and resiliency in education by increasing mental health awareness in schools. Funding through SAMSHA for an IU partnership to support districts across Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit, Luzerne Intermediate Unit and Montgomery County Intermediate Unit catchment areas.

Through this grant, the goals below will help the school districts and students across the catchment area. Districts are able to access the below opportunities to help support mental health/suicide prevention initiatives in their schools. These opportunities can supplement already existing supports and interventions or grow new supports and interventions in schools.

is your district Interested in…?

  • Universal mental health screening for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade (roll-out can start small and expand to your capacity as a school/district)
  • Aevidum Clubs (Student led Suicide Prevention/Mental Health Awareness Club) for secondary school students
  • Suicide Prevention/Mental Health Awareness Training for Kindergarten through 12th grade students
  • Streamlined risk assessment process with targeted screener
  • Electronic system for school-based mental health professionals to access real-time behavioral health referrals for students

Grant Partners:

carbon Lehigh intermediate unit
luzerne intermediate unit 18
Pennsylvania department of education
PA department of human services

Interested in learning more?  Dr. Pia Houseal, Program Administrator for Project Aware, recently sat down with our Director of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships for the MCIU Learning Network podcast! Listen below:

Goals of Project AWARE:

suicide prevention icon

Goal 1

Increase opportunities for students in all grades (K-12) to participate in suicide prevention training programs to increase awareness and reduce suicidal tendencies and feelings of depression.

helping hands icon

Goal 2

Ensure all interested school districts within the project region have appropriate mental health screening tools and trained personnel to assess student mental health needs to better connect students and families to supports and services.

mental health help icon

Goal 3

Develop an electronic system to expand referral pathways to connect school-based practitioners with mental health service providers with available capacity to serve new patients.

Tiered Mental Health and School-Based Supports & Interventions

School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation System (SHAPE) is an assessment tool designed to provide an understanding of the readiness of school communities to engage in providing tiered levels of support to meet students’ mental health needs.

If your district would benefit from support in completing the SHAPE Assessment Tool, please reach out to your Intermediate Unit Project AWARE Program Manager.

Tier 1:
& Support:

bhWorks Platform

A web-based program that offers screening tools, care coordination and outcomes reporting for district/schools to coordinate student screening and data gathering. Universal mental health screening (focused on depression, anxiety and suicidality) through bhWorks platform.

Aevidum “I’ve Got Your Back”

A student-driven, mental health well-being program that seeks to create a positive school climate through club involvement and use of a mental health/ suicide prevention and awareness curriculum. Clubs start by engaging in a talk workshop where there is a focus on developing student leaders with the support of a faculty advisor.

Multi-district group talk workshops for high school students are currently scheduled for Fall 2023.

Tier 2:
& Support:

Risk assessment protocols and interventions.

Targeted assessment tools/screeners through bhWorks platform to be used, as needed, when universal screener results identify the possibility of a higher level of care need.

Tier 3:

Mental Health Level of Care Platform

Expansion of partnerships with behavioral health providers and creation of a streamlined electronic system for ease in accessing providers for meeting student mental health needs.

Interested in more information about Project AWARE or next steps within your district/schools?

Please reach out to your Project AWARE Intermediate Unit contact!

Carbon Lehigh
Intermediate Unit:

Jason Savenelli

Intermediate Unit:
Jessica Zaborny
Montgomery County
Intermediate Unit:

Pia Houseal


Additional resources coming soon!

Pia Houseal

Pia Houseal, DSW, LCSW

Program Administrator – Project AWARE

Pia Houseal is a Program Administrator at MCIU for the Project AWARE grant. Pia graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in English Literature and Women’s Studies. She has a Masters Degree in Social Work from Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and her doctorate degree in Social Work Leadership and Education from Millersville University. Pia is also a clinical licensed social worker. 

Pia has two decades of experience as a school social worker and school administrator in Pennsylvania. Most of that time, she worked directly with children/adolescents and their families as well as supporting the adult professionals who work with them. She is trained as a school social worker and has experience working with elementary and secondary school students in public schools and the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit. In 2018, Pia transitioned into school administration, serving as a Director of Student Support Services, which included oversight of social emotional learning, school climate and culture, and special education. Pia looks forward to continuing to support the mental health of our students and serve our local districts in new and expanded initiatives to prevent and educate in suicide prevention, mental health awareness and related supports and interventions.