A bi-partisan effort is underway to help Michigan teachers respond to a mental health crisis in the classroom.
Called mental health first aid, the instructional course would cover everything from anxiety to self-injury.
Teachers would learn how to identify risk factors and warning signs for mental illnesses, according to a House bill introduced this week. Teachers would also get pointers on how to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
The bi-partisan measure has 30 co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Health Policy. It would be up the state departments of education and health and human services to bring the course to fruition.
In addition to spotting risk factors, teachers would be schooled in recognizing depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, eating disorders, substance use disorders and self-injury, according to the two-page bill.
Thousands of teachers across the U.S. already have completed mental health training programs based off a model developed 17 years ago in Australia.
State leaders for years have supported a Mental Health First Aid course for adults who regularly work with kids. The eight-hour training certification course is described as a CPR-like program to educate participants on mental health issues among school-aged youth.
One in five people between the ages of 13 and 18 have, or will have, a serious mental health illness in their life, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. About half of all lifetime cases of mental illness start by age 14, the alliance reports.
More than one million people across the U.S. have been trained in Mental Health First Aid by more than 12,000 instructors, according to the website mentalhealthfirstaid.org. Michigan ranks fourth in the number of people trained. Those targeted for training include teachers, first responders and veterans.
The program got its start in Australia in 2001.
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