Mental Health Support

Additional Mental Health Support Available, Thanks to Federal and Referendum Funds
Posted on 08/14/2019
Guidance Sign

The School District of Palm Beach County is benefiting from a federal grant designed to strengthen mental health support services. Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition received $125,000 to expand Mental Health First Aid, an innovative public education program to prevent substance abuse and identify and assist individuals struggling with mental health.

Thanks to the grant, more than 50 District staff members and community partners were trained as Youth Mental First Aid Instructors, leading to the provision of 154 youth mental health training sessions. As a result, more than 3,000 District staff have completed the training, and are now Certified Mental Health First Aiders.

“We’re a massive county and a large school district, so that is a very small percentage of people we could train within our community to truly make an impact on identifying signs and symptoms of mental health, but most importantly destigmatizing what mental health is right now in our community,” said Kevin McCormick, the District’s Director of Exceptional Student Education.

Training for the certification is provided through an interactive 12-hour course that presents an overview of mental illness and substance use disorders in the U.S. Participants are taught to identify risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, build an understanding of their impact, and learn about common treatments.

By taking the certification course, participants learn a five-step action plan that encompasses the skills, resources, and knowledge needed to help a person in crisis connect with the appropriate professional.

Child Youth Mental Health First Aid classes have been provided since June. These classes are focused on issues relating to children ages 5-12, while Youth Mental Health First Aid deals with youth between the ages of 12-18.

Thirty Child Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid classes are scheduled from June through December 2019, with additional classes slated for 2020. The District is applying to be included in the Teen Mental Health First Aid pilot in which students in grades 10, 11, and 12 will receive direct instruction in Mental Health First Aid.

The Mental Health First Aid program will augment the more than $50 million being dedicated to enhancing mental health programs within the District, funds resulting from the 2018 voter-approved referendum. That money will go towards providing mental health/behavior coaches in all District schools and hiring additional school psychologists, counselors, and mental health clinicians.

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