CICS and Newton Schools Train Teachers to Handle Students' Mental Health Issues


Trainings focused on mental health first aid, de-escalation and trauma

CICS partnered with Newton Community School District and the Area Education Agency to host a day of training sessions focused on students’ mental health issues last Monday, November 26, at the EJH Beard Administration Center in Newton. Approximately 40 district educators attended trainings covering mental health first aid, de-escalation and trauma.

The day’s sessions were organized through CICS, the 11-county mental health region which includes Jasper County. CICS and Newton Community School District were brought into collaboration by Julie Bishop Gibson, CHI grant coordinator for Skiff Medical Center, who helped coordinate the training sessions as a professional development opportunity through the Area Education Agency.

Patti Treibel-Leeds, facilitator of the session on mental health first aid, has found that educators are increasingly grappling with student mental health struggles that spill into the classroom. “The response we’re getting from educators is that they’re seeing mental health issues in kids all the time now. They’ve been concerned about how to go about helping them. They want to be educated on how to better address the mental health needs of kids in our schools,” said Treibel-Leeds.

“We see these trainings as an opportunity to provide educators with vital new knowledge and tools that better equip them to serve the mental health and learning needs of all the students in the district,” said Bishop Gibson.

Tina Ross, director of special programs for Newton Community School District, hopes the mental health training gives educators another tool to help foster a positive learning environment for all students. “We hope our educators take away more strategies. Newton’s not on an island. We’re not the only ones seeing increasing issues in our students. Everyone has students in crisis. How do we keep students from escalating? How do we build some strategies and some support for those kids? Trainings like this are part of that effort,” said Ross.

Ross said Newton may add a summer mental health training, and CICS is working to schedule more trainings with other school districts throughout the region.