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Buffalo, NY: More counselors; teachers trained to recognized mental health issues

Aug 19, 2018, Buffalo (NY) News: New state law heightens focus on students' mental health When students return to classes next month, they can expect to have more counseling services at their disposal as well as trained teachers keeping a closer eye on their mental health. A new state law requires it. The law, signed on July 1, requires New York State elementary, middle and high schools to provide mental health education as part of their health curriculum …. Schools can choose their own approach. The law does not mandate a specific curriculum, said Amy Molloy, director of education for the Mental Health Association in New York State. Buffalo schools, for example, are expanding trauma-informed care training to help teachers in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades understand how trauma affects people. Niagara Falls schools are adding more school psychologists and hiring social workers. The Tonawanda City School District has added a peer mentorship program to address mental health and drug and alcohol abuse. Mark Laurrie, superintendent of the Niagara Falls School District, said he saw the urgency for mental health education after seeing the alarming statistics from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey his school district conducted in November 2015. Nearly 15 percent of the Niagara Falls students who filled out the survey said they seriously considered attempting suicide and 10.4 percent said they attempted suicide during the 12 months before the survey…. Part of what drove the new legislation is the growing mental health problems among children, with one in every five adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 living with a mental health condition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health…. School districts are also recognizing the pivotal role of teachers and school staff in students' mental health and are expanding training for student staff so they can respond to warning signs and ask the right questions to students about mental health…. For example, Buffalo public schools are extending staff training efforts by providing Trauma Informed Care training to teachers of grades four to six this year, and extending it to other grade teachers over the next two years. The training will focus on learning to understand where trauma and stress come from, and how it impacts individuals. In addition, the Niagara Falls City school trained its teachers in the spring and summer and will continue training in the fall. …


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