NORTH CANTON Three staff members of North Canton City Schools recently attended mental health first aid training. School psychologist Steve Fricke, curriculum specialist Linnea Olbon and school counselor Terri Simmons will teach others in the district what they learned about mental health during their weeklong training session.
The training was held at the Stark County Educational Service Center (ESC) along with persons from other districts. Participants learned how to identify, intervene and obtain help for youth who may be in a mental health crisis or displaying at-risk behavior before they hurt themselves or others.
"The three of us will be providing training to other staff members in the district and we will be holding an eight-hour training for the community in the near future," said Olbon.
The local training was led by two national trainers who used curriculum developed by the National Council for Behavioral Health and partnered with the Sandy Hook Promise organization to promote the training in schools.
Olbon said the training was intense.
"To get certification from this training, we each had to do a presentation and be evaluated," Olbon said. "We’ll continue to be evaluated for renewal. It’s important for everyone in the district and the community to come together to help youth when they are in a mental health crisis and this program teaches us ways to recognize the stress and how to help the person through it."
She said more than 30 staff members in the district have signed up for the training. Plus, she’s also had several people from the community contact her about participating.
"North Canton City Schools is also implementing CARE teams to help address non-academic issues or traumas such as a death in the family or a teenage pregnancy," Olbon said.
Olbon offers the following signs displayed by a youth who may be in crisis:
- Anxiety (the No. 1 trigger)
- Eating habits change where the youth won’t eat at all or starts excessive eating
- He or she becomes withdrawn
- Erratic behaviors that are out of the norm for the youth
Olbon said they were taught the ALGEE method of accessing and helping a youth who are at risk for suicide or harm. ALGEE is an acronym for a five-step action plan and includes: Access for risk, Listen nonjudgmentally, Give reassurance, Encourage appropriate professional help and Encourage self-help and other support strategies.
"It’s important for parents or caregivers to remember that if they recognize any signs of stress or distress, they should first talk with the child or youth," Olbon said. "If they feel they need more help, they can call the school district to get a list resources that can provide them further help."