The Hillsborough County School District is taking action toward mental health awareness and training staff to pick up on signs of depression or anxiety kids may show in the classroom.
School officials are training teachers, staff and parents on suicide prevention initiatives within the first 60 days of school year. Staff will go through a one hour face-to-face training session and be encouraged to take an additional two-hour evidence-based suicide awareness and prevention training online.
The district's goal is to achieve the state designation as a Suicide Prevention Certified School.
"If a student has a broken arm, they go to a doctor so the doctor can help heal their arm," said Anne Townsend, Hillsborough County Public Schools Psychological Services spokesperson. "It's the same situation if a student is experiencing anxiety of maybe feelings of depression or hopelessness. You want to make sure they will address the whole child."
Dina Riley, a mother whose kids will be entering 2nd and 4th grade in just a few days, believes it is important for teachers to be trained in mental health awareness issues because kids may show signs in school that they will not display at home.
"It's very scary to think about it," Riley said. As a parent you want to protect your kids and teach them that there are other ways to deal with what they are going through, but sometimes you don't see it."
The district is inviting parents to take part in the training with a free 8-hour course through Mental Health First Aid course. The district believes it is also a good idea for parents to foster relationships with groups and community partners across the county.
"It's very important because sometimes kids display other actions and behaviors that they don't show at home," Riley said. "So I think it's important for someone else to have an eye on them."
Here are some links to resources he Hillsborough County School District has that may be helpful to parents.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: afsp.org
National Association of School Psychologists (Children's Mental Health, Depression: When It Hurts to be a Teenager, Understanding and Responding to Students Who Self-Mutilate): www.naspcenter.org/mentalhealth
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Preventing Youth Suicide: www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: www.samhsa.gov