DESE and Key Partners Offer Free Mental Health First Aid Training for School Staff and Students

Tue 03/22/22 - 09:31

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is using federal relief funds to partner with Mental Health First Aid Missouri — operated by the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Missouri Institute of Mental Health — to provide Mental Health First Aid trainings to schools across the state at no cost. These skills-based programs give adults the tools they need to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges in both fellow adults (the standard Mental Health First Aid training), as well as in adolescents ages 12-18 (the Youth Mental Health First Aid — or YMHFA — training).

“Just as CPR helps even those without clinical training assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Rachel Taube, Project Director for Mental Health First Aid. “Those who receive this first aid training report an increased ability to recognize signs and symptoms of a mental health challenge and increased confidence in their ability to help and offer the appropriate support.”

“Students, teachers, and school staff alike are experiencing increased mental health challenges and stressors right now,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “Providing training opportunities like these helps create a larger support system for those who need it while also helping reduce the stigma around mental health and asking for help.”

Since the National Council for Mental Wellbeing and DMH brought Mental Health First Aid training to the U.S. in 2008, more than 2.5 million people have been certified.

“YMHFA provides vital training for adults who regularly work with school-aged students across our district,” said Robyn Fondren, Coordinator of Counseling Services at Springfield Public Schools. “It’s very important to educate all adults in our system about the signs of mental distress and the steps to intervene as early as possible in the hopes to prevent tragic outcomes.”

“The YMHFA training has equipped our staff with the skills needed to be able to identify early mental health crises in our students, assess the situation, and get the required help,” said Chelsea Boyd, Assistant Principal at Seckman High School in the Fox C-6 School District. “In short, this training saves lives."

For more information about this effort, visit Schools may register for training sessions using the online form found on the webpage.