Illinois County to Train Educators on Mental Health Issues

Illinois County to Train Educators on Mental Health Issues

The McHenry County Mental Health Board is collaborating with 17 school districts in August to train instructors on how to identify and help students who are experiencing mental health problems.

The McHenry County Mental Health Board is collaborating with 17 school districts in August to bring Youth Mental Health First Aid training to educators and teach them how identify and help students who are experiencing mental health problems.

“It gives you an opportunity for early intervention,” said Kristin Schmidt, assistant director of special education for Crystal Lake Elementary District 47, one of the participating school districts. “This will provide them a lens of empathy. They can apply it to how they choose to interact with students in their classroom or change expectations for classroom behaviors; modify workload for students with high anxiety.”

The five-day training will be provided by expert national trainers and supported by the Crystal Lake chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The training in August will be offered primarily for middle and high school administrators, special education staff, social workers and psychologists.

The class will teach a five-step action plan for how to help children and teens in crisis and non-crisis situations. The five steps involve: evaluating for danger of suicide or harm, listening nonjudgmentally, providing reassurances and information, encouraging proper professional help and promoting self-help and other support strategies.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five children, ages 13 to 18 years, has experienced a serious mental disorder in their lives.

Scott Block, executive director of the McHenry County Mental Health Board, said the county’s evaluation of child and adolescent mental health and psychiatrist needs in 2017 emphasized a mounting issue and need for improving access to mental health services.

“With the pressures of today’s society, both in the educational (and) social environment in which children are using many different social media platforms. There have been anecdotal increases in anxiety, depression, body image issues, and bullying-related concerns, all of which have exacerbated mental health-related issues within our youth,” Block said. “Our response was to increase and bolster some of our community-based services.”

The mental health board approved in January up to $40,000 in subsidies to allocate to the Youth Mental Health First Aid training per a new state mandate requiring school boards to adopt and implement rules addressing mental health concerns.

About the Author

Jessica Davis is the Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media.

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