A new bill introduced by the Senate will require teachers to undergo mental health first aid training to recognize signs of mental distress and substance abuse in young children.
In January, Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill that would direct more services to help school districts strengthen their mental first aid skills.
Mid-Michigan schools will no longer be only concerned with academics as lawmakers push to make certain teachers are paying closer attention to the behaviors of students.
Ellen Lounds, director of special services at Holly Area Schools, said they are working on focusing more on the emotional wellness of students.
“If you think of first aid in the physical side of things, this is first aid for the emotional side,” Lounds said. “It could be eating disorders, it could be suicidal idealization, depression, anxiety, you mentioned social media - on there we hear a lot about kids with anxiety. We hear a lot everyday about suicide. We’re trying to give staff a lens, so they can identify.”
The district has already started trainings to combat mental illness. Lounds said the school uses the R.U.L.E.R. system. This system teaches staff how to see problems before they get out of hand and if an issue is identified, the school will work to get the students help if they need it.
“A lot of times, we are the first people to see that they struggle. It is not always academics,” Lounds said.
Lounds said her school has seen success since the training program was implemented.
“I feel like the teachers thought it was a really great adolescence development. While also understanding the wide range of issues kids are dealing with. When do we listen to know? I need reassurance versus do we listen, I know we need to connect them to other resources,” Lounds said.