Amarillo ISD provided 15 Mental Health First Aid classes to 360 educators during the summer months. The training is funded by a grant the District applied for and received last year.
Mental Health First Aid teaches educators strategies for supporting students experiencing a mental health or substance abuse-related crisis. “Just like someone is trained to provide C.P.R. during cardiac arrest, Mental Health First Aid teaches us the warning signs of a mental health or substance abuse crisis and then how to respond,” Tracey Morman, Director of Counseling and College & Career Readiness said. “Educators learn to assess and listen, to look for non-verbal and verbal cues and to deescalate a situation until they can get the student the appropriate help they need.”
In addition to Mental Health First Aid, some educators are undergoing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) training. These opportunities are structured to trickle down and benefit the community. Twenty-five A.I.S.D. counselors will become master trainers who train teachers who can then also become trainers and provide mental health educational opportunities to churches and community organizations.
“As a leader in mental health training, our district believes the value mental health awareness and education can provide is immeasurable,” said Superintendent Doug Loomis. “We want to equip more people with the tools to properly support our students’ mental health and well-being.”
The District will offer additional mental health training opportunities throughout the school year, answering a need for students and teachers. “We are seeing more and more students coming to us experiencing trauma or living in trauma and providing the right support to them allows them to go on to experience resiliency and learn that they can get better,” Morman said. “Our staff has said this was the best training in all their years of teaching and the best use of their time.”