New law requires teacher training on mental health
Local districts say they're already providing training
The start of the new school year won't include just the usual lessons. It will also be the beginning of required training for teachers on mental health intervention.
Under the new law, which takes effect September 1, school districts will be required to provide teachers, administrators and staff with training on mental health intervention and suicide prevention to help them identify red flags in a child's behavior and respond effectively.
San Antonio Independent School District officials said Thursday this is something they already have in place.
This week, teachers, counselors and other SAISD staff members are getting training over what could impact a child's mental health, whether it be poverty, an incarcerated parent or just some traumatic experience, like an accident or death in the family.
"It's been a priority for quite some time," said Leslie Price with SAISD. "And with the realization of what is happening out in society today, this is an area that you have to be very aware of and watchful, so you can best serve the children and get them the right resources."
Estella Garza, SAISD social worker coordinator, said she advises teachers to look for dramatic changes in behavior.
"Sometimes kids are exceptionally quiet when they never were," said Garza. "So, there are a variety of things that kids come up with in their behavior. It's usually change of behavior, maybe even the way they look, their appearance."
Northside Independent School District officials said the district is also in compliance with the new law and have several protocols in place, including training teachers to look for warning signs and to take action immediately.
"Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers," said Deborah Healy, NISD Director of Guidance and Counseling Services. "One in six nationally, will think about suicide during their school career. Those are shocking statistics. We want to protect our young people so that their emotional health is optimal and so they can enjoy school and enjoy being young."
Northeast ISD officials also believe that they are already in compliance with the bill.
They have always conducted faculty training regarding crisis and suicide intervention.
Their training is always done early in the school year and that it is something their counselors are constantly working on.
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