MIRA’s ongoing mission is to raise awareness about the physical basis of brain disorders, as well as eliminating the stigma that is associated with mental disorder. By providing seminars and conferences for Michigan Middle School and High School aged students and administrators we are able to carry out this mission.
In the first few years of MIRA’s Education Project, which was initially called The School Awareness Program, MIRA provided materials and in-service training to high school Psychology teachers, Health teachers, and counselors. As the program became better known, school administrators asked MIRA to enlarge the target audience to include the entire school community. MIRA’s Education Program is approaching its 20th year. The consulting staff includes Adrienne Crocket, Eric Hipple, and when her schedule allows, Eric’s daughter, Tarah, who is able to connect with the students on a more personal level. Since inception, MIRA has presented materials and training to staff and students in over six hundred schools throughout the state of Michigan. It should also be noted that the program is completely funded by grants received by MIRA. By 2011, nearly $220,000 in funds have been raised to help support our education program.
There are several facts to consider when thinking about how Mental Illness Awareness is taught to school aged children:
1) More has been learned about the brain in the last decade then in the previous 200 years
2) Most Michigan high school Health and Psychology teachers were trained before this proliferation of research and education. Additionally, most schools use text books that are our of date as they were published before this proliferation of research and available information.
3) All public high school students in Michigan are required to take a course in General Health, which, in many schools, includes a unit on Mental Health. Most Michigan high schools also offer an elective course in Psychology. Nevertheless, as noted above materials and information may be grossly outdated.
4) Ignorance of the nature of mental illness leads to stigma and unfair treatment.
A brief history of our Healthy Minds Program:
1999- MIRA staff compiled packets of teaching materials that contain the latest available information about the brain and mental illness, which they obtained from the Michigan Department of Community Health, Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority, The Dana Brain Research Foundation, The National Institute on Drug and Alcohol Abuse and the American Psychiatric Association. A $10,000 grant from Oakland County Community Mental health Authority and a $15,000 grant for five consecutive years from the Michigan Department of Mental Health was provided to cover the cost of these materials and additional costs of the “Awareness” program. Most of the teachers and counselors received these materials at five conferences MIRA conducted throughout the State. They were in-serviced in the use of these materials by MIRA staff and MIRA Board member, Dr. Gerard Teachman- a former High School Psychology teacher. Dr. Teachman also spoke to numerous classes of high school students.
2003- By June of this year MIRA staff had delivered over seven hundred and fifty packets to teachers and counselors in over four hundred schools in Michigan. At this time, MIRA received a grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield that allowed them to continue and expand the school Awareness Program .
2004-2005- MIRA received a Federal grant of $52,000 to help fund its Education Project throughout Michigan. This program was implemented by two consultants who were hired for the Blue Cross grant: Adrienne Crockett, a retired school principal; and Dr. Rebie Kingston, a retired administrator.
2005-2010- Mrs. Crocket and Dr. Kingston continued to provide materials and in-service presentations to schools and to state wide education conferences. The number of presentations were limited, however, because of reduced funding. Nevertheless, an average of 5-10 presentations were given each year.
Spring 2011- In the spring MIRA received a large donation that allowed it to reorganize and restructure its goals and programs, which included expanding its education program.
Fall 2011- MIRA was asked to join the University of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Education for a state-wide project, with a duration of 2 years. The projects emphasis was promoting mentally healthy minds, recognizing the symptoms of depression, changing the culture of stigma surrounding mental health and suicide prevention. The presentations were jointly conducted with Eric Hipple through the University of Michigan. MIRA presented or co-presented in about twenty schools throughout the state of Michigan. These presentations were made to staff, students and, if possible, parents in attempt to provide the entire school community with the most up to date material and information regarding mental health and brain-related diseases and disorders.
2014-present MIRA’s Education Program is in full swing. Please view the Schedule section under the education tab for more information about dates and schools.