State law will implement new mental health intervention strategies
POSTED: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 6:28pm
UPDATED: Monday, September 16, 2013 - 3:41pm
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — As we continue to see more school shootings across this country -- teachers here in Texas will be trained to spot people with mental health problems. That includes students who may need mental health intervention. Senate Bill 460 will require all Texas schools to have mental health intervention strategies in place so teachers will know how to approach students who show signs of mental or emotional distress. While students learn their 1,2,3's and ABC’s, teachers will be learning, as well. "The local mental health authority such as Emergence Health Network here in El Paso will be working with local school districts to train personnel in the course known as mental health first aid,” Rene Hurtado, Spokesperson for Emergence Health Network said. The group is gearing up to assist El Paso county teachers with mental health intervention training. "Look for certain symptoms, in not just children, but also caregivers and parents.” Senate Bill 460 will become law on September 1st. Through the law the Department of Health and Human services will allocate money to all Texas school districts to train teachers on what mental or emotional distress looks like. "If we can start catching them. Identifying those kids that are struggling mentally,” Patricia Martin, a 1st grade teacher at Bill Childress Elementary School told us. Canutillo independent school district educators explained they already train counselors. "Our division that handles this type of training is already working with counselors to make sure that training happens at a campus level,” Gustavo Reveles, spokesperson for CISD said. This law will aid their counselors in training teachers. "If that means having to go through this training and making sure that, that every need of theirs is taken care of then so be it, we're going to do it." According to the Texas Tribune, almost one in three special education teachers reported lack of training needed to handle students' behavioral health issues. "Mental illness is just like any other illness. Whether it's high blood pressure or diabetes and that folks with a mental health diagnoses can lead full and productive lives.” Hurtado explained. With this kind of training teachers will now have an extra tool to aid their students. The largest school district in our area --- EPISD -- is also getting ready for this big change. They say they plan to follow the new law's guidelines and training for teachers should begin on October 1st.