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Educators Learn To Detect Mental Illness In Students

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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ARGYLE (CBSDFW.COM) - From Columbine to Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gunmen behind America’s worst school shootings have all had serious mental health issues. Thus, some Texas school districts have decided to take extreme measures to protect students. A few weeks ago, Argyle ISD approved a plan to arm some teachers.

But, now some local educators are learning about a different way to stop school shooters before they ever bring a gun to school and to help any other student with emotional or mental health needs.

“Being positive with the feedback is very key, very crucial,” the instructor told a class full of about a dozen educators at a day-long seminar held on the Tarrant Community College Southeast Campus.

The is a class for educators to learn to detect mental health issues in students before the student can harm themselves or others.

“It’s much more common than you think,” said MHMR of Tarrant County’s Clinical Director James Turnage. “And so, we actually have an eight hour training, our Mental Health First Aid training, to help someone identify the signs of mental illness and to know how to provide the right support.”

“Twenty-five percent of our population, statistically, has a mental health disorder,” said Lyvier Leffler, TCC Southeast Campus Director of Student Development Services who attended the class. “And, we have about 16,000 students on campus. So, that right there tells you statistically we do have students with mental illness on campus.”

“What would be some helpful things to say?” the instructor asked the class as they charted the right and wrong ways to address a student’s issues.

MHMR of Tarrant County runs the class. It teaches ways to approach students of all ages who might be showing the early signs of mental illness.

Although teachers learn to detect all manner of mental health issues, the high profile tragedies, like school shootings, are what have spurred action. Teachers say ten years ago there was far less willingness to deal with mental health issues in the classroom. But now with media attention paid to missed warning signs in other cases and more awareness of mental health issues are a disease more teachers are accepting of mental health training.

Now, MHMR of Tarrant County hopes to train 300 area teachers in mental health first aid.

“The more we can get the word out, the more people are aware of mental health first aid, the more we can make an impact,” Turnage said. “And we want to avoid any tragic headlines.”

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Click here to find out about joining a Mental Health First Aid classes or or call: 817.569.4342.

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