Alachua County Council PTA hosts Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)-- October 10 is World Mental Health Day and a group of teachers and parents attended a training session on how to help children who may be going through a mental health crisis.

Alachua County Council's Parent Teacher Association hosted its “Youth Mental Health First Aid Training" for Alachua County teachers, volunteers, and parents.

Alachua County Council’s PTA collaborated with Alachua County Public Schools and the S.E.E.D Sowing foundation to create the event.

“PTA thinks it's important that we all become aware and start the conversation about mental health and to break the stigma,” said Pamela Korithoski, Alachua County Council PTA President. “It’s okay to feel depressed, it’s okay to have these issues and to know where to go and get help.”

About a dozen people attended the training to learn about how to respond to adolescents, especially middle and high school students, who may have signs of depression.

They say patience, empathy, and understanding are tools teachers can use to learn what is going on with the student.

“If you don’t have empathy for someone, you won’t understand where they’re coming from,” she said. “So one of the things is empathy and questions to ask."

Korithoski said she's seen an increase in suicide rates and hopes the training can be used to decrease it.

“Last few years, our mental health issues in our children in suicide have skyrocketed and there’s a stigma also attached with mental health,” she said. “We are not seeing the signs and we are not seeing the signs in our children.”

Here is the link to mental health and suicide prevention resources:

Student Support Services / Mental Health/Suicide Prevention

Alachua County Schools are fortunate to have school counselors in every school who are Masters or above-trained counselors knowledgeable about child development and mental health needs. They are there to listen, support and assess student risk of self-harm if necessary.