M.I.R.A Education History

MIRA’s ongoing mission is to raise awareness about mental fitness, as well as eliminating the stigma that is associated with mental disorder and suicide behavior. By inserting the be nice. action plan and providing mental fitness education to  school aged populations and school administration 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 has approached its 20th year and beyond. The program currently includes the be nice. action plan, founded and supported by the Mental Health Foundation of Western Michigan and Eric Hipple as our Education Consultant.  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 and funds raised by MIRA. To date, nearly $200,000 in funds have been raised to help support our education program over the last 7 academic calendar years.

There are several facts to consider when thinking about how Mental Illness Awareness is taught and presented 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 Nevertheless, as noted above materials and information may be grossly outdated.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 and suicide behavior leads to stigma and unfair treatment.

 

 

Below is a brief history of our “Healthy Minds” program which now includes the be nice. action plan:

 

A Brief Timeline 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. Dr. Teachman also has served on the board of MIRA as our “Director of Education”. 

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 us 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 school administrator.

 

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: 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 now 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.

 

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.

 

2012-2019: Under the leadership of Board President John Williamson and Executive Director  Katie Solomon, MIRA began to focus solely on bringing the “Healthy Minds” program, coined by Eric Hipple, to Schools throughout the state of Michigan. Supporting this mission through annual FUNdraisers and the support of our community. In 2019 MIRA officially changed the acronym from The Mental Illness Research Association to The Mental Illness Resource Association, highlighting our mission to provide programing that would serve schools through education with a focus on mental fitness and suicide prevention. 

2019-2020: MIRA adopted the be nice. curriculum from the Mental Health Foundation of Western Michigan to pilot at 10 local schools in South East Michigan. It is our belief that the be nice. action plan in conjunction with our current “Healthy Minds”  program will help to create a positive culture surrounding mental illness and reinforce our mission and message of mental fitness, suicide prevention and de-stigmatization within school aged populations.