“Now is the Time” AWARE Community Project

Dr. Carol Irizarry currently works as researcher and coordinator of the UPR-RP “Now is the Time” AWARE Community Project (Proyecto AHORA). This project is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and started the 29th of September, 2015.  The objectives of the project are to: 1) train UPR mental health professionals as instructors in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA); 2) train a wide range of community members as Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) such as teachers from grades 11 and 12, professors, parents, law enforcement officials, security personnel, administrators and staff of programs and organizations serving transition-aged youth (TAY), including those that provide services to young women, such as ProFamilia and domestic violence shelters, faith-based organizations, peer counselors, among others, and members of minority communities such as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transexuals and transgenders (LGBTT), and Dominican communities; 3) develop and sustain a tracking system to track referrals that result from the project; 4) collect and analyze data through pre-tests and post-tests to measure changes in knowledge and intervention skills among MHFAs; and 5) collect and analyze data related to mental health and help-seeking behavior among TAY. The goal is to increase awareness and knowledge of mental health and first aid in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and to facilitate access for TAY to mental or behavioral health services. The project also aims to reduce stigma related to seeking mental health services and to strengthen the links between our university and the community of San Juan.

The project is currently in its second quartile. During the first quartile, the first objective was accomplished, having certified 22 UPR-RP professionals as Mental Health First Aid Instructors.

Trainings to the community are expected to start in March or early April.   


Maria Isabel Jimémez, Ph.D. - maria.jimenez16@upr.edu

Guillermo Bernal, Ph.D. - gbernal@ipsi.uprrp.edu

Carol Irizarry, Ph.D. - carol_irizarry@live.com

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