Local News

Jul 21, 2014 1:12 PM by Sara Donchey

Group Seeks to Teach Educators First Aid for Mental Health

CORPUS CHRISTI - Teachers know that if one of their kids gets a cut or a scrape, to reach for the bandages. But what if a kid has a panic attack; can't pay attention in class; or even seems depressed?

Diane Lowrance, Executive Director of the Behavioral Health Center of Nueces County, is trying to get local teachers to think about those scenarios.

"If you see something going on that's not quite right, maybe not quite within the norm that a teacher or a parent is expecting, then what's the first thing you can do?" Lowrence said. "How do you approach the child?"

The answer may not be obvious, but the center is trying to change that.

Their "Mental Health First Aid" course is prepping teachers to identify and triage signs of behavioral or mental trouble with students.

Dr. Charles Smith is the clinical supervisor of the program, and knows there is a lot that teachers need to look out for.

"If there's some drastic change in their behavior, a drop in grades, a change in their appearance...neglecting their own self-care, that could be something (wrong)," Smith said.

Behavioral or mental problems aren't always as obvious as spotting a cough or a cold, but they may be just as important to treat once their identified and assessed.

Skarlet Pelehberg is one of the instructors of the course and shows teachers how to respond to issues that range from Attention Deficit Disorder to Schizophrenia.

She explained that her classes also demonstrate to teachers how to determine whether a student is in the middle of a mental or emotional crisis.

"It's just teaching them to recognize these signs and symptoms that could progress and become a tragedy," Pelehberg said.

The next "Mental Health First Aid Training" course will be held July 23 at the Youth Services Building at 3733 S. Port Ave. in Corpus Christi.

For information on how to sign up, contact Vicky Guerra at (361) 886-4689.

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