HELENA – The State of Montana has received $2.1 million in federal grant money to support and expand the PAX Good Behavior Game which helps prevent youth suicide.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) director Sheila Hogan said the Good Behavior Game provides teachers with research-based strategies focused on creating a classroom climate that facilitates productivity, teamwork, and encourages the development of resiliency that will continue over the course of a student’s lifetime.
“[The Good Behavior Game] was identified in the Surgeon General’s report ‘Facing Addiction in America’ has a $64 to $1 ratio return on investment,” said Zoe Barnard, DPHHS Addictive and Mental Disorders Division administrator.
DPHHS say they’re excited for this opportunity in Montana; especially given the state’s history with substance-abuse and suicide.
“Unfortunately in Montana suicide has become the number one preventable cause of death for kids 10-14 years old, and one in 5 high school students reports being suicidal in the last year,” said Barnard.
The program is currently implemented in more than 20 school districts in Montana including Helena, East Helena, Canyon Creek and Clancy.
The additional funding will allow an estimated 35 new schools to utilize the program in their communities.
“In confronting youth suicide, substance abuse and peer pressure, we need to do everything we can to help our kids become more resilient,” said Governor Steve Bullock. “The Good Behavior Game is evidence-based and has shown great promise in Montana. This is an excellent opportunity to provide a valuable tool to even more of our students and teachers in classrooms.”
According to DPHHS, over the last two years there have been hundreds of teachers and thousands of students in Montana trained on the Good Behavior Game.
Barnard said the feedback they’ve received from the schools so far looks very promising.
“Teachers love it,” said Barnard, “Teachers love it because it creates a culture of mutual respect and it makes it a lot easier to manage a classroom.”
“The teachers I work with who are utilizing this program share how it has increased student self-regulation and improved classroom culture,” said Carol Ewen, School Wellness Coordinator for Missoula County Public Schools.
Schools, both private and public, or community coalitions are encouraged to submit grant proposals by June 28, 2019.
Grant funds will be used for training school personnel by the PAXIS Institute as well as paying for continued program evaluation through the University of Montana.
The State will also be offering a $500 stipend to those that participate in the training. Any K-5 teacher or school personnel assisting with implementing the program will qualify for the stipend.
If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts please reach out for help.
Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or text “MT” to 741 741.