November 07, 2017 08:03 AM
They're parents, educators, physicians and mental health providers.
All of them gathered together Monday night in Stillwater to start breaking down barriers surrounding mental health in schools.
"I have a child that is impacted with mental health issues," shared one parent on why she joined the conversation.
"I just think we can do better than we're doing," said another.
Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among teenagers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. With the number of kids in need on the rise, suicide is just one of many topics up for discussion in Stillwater as parents, physicians, educators and advocates work to identify tools to help students cope with mental illness.
"We may not solve the problem, but at least we have things set up. It's out in the open, it's public, there's a lot of support that comes with that," said one physician attending the forum.
The conversation on teen suicide and mental health in schools is growing across the state. School-linked mental health services are now in 85 percent of districts.
However, mental health education is something that involves more than just teachers and staff.
"It's not just our kids," said one of the mothers in attendance. "It's our whole population that struggles."
By the end of the evening, lists of ideas on how to cast a wider net of resources covered the walls like a centralized website with resources for help, how to talk to your kids, and further training options for teachers.
And all of the ideas came from starting a simple conversation.
Now, Washington County and Stillwater school district officials will organize the ideas and find the best ways to start implementing them to better serve students and the greater community.
Around the state, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, travels to classrooms regularly as part of its "Ending the Silence" campaign.
They reached 3,400 kids last year alone.
Teachers in Minnesota are required to complete two hours of continuing education per year on mental health.
In 2016, lawmakers passed requirements to add an additional hour of suicide-specific training for educators.
Updated: November 07, 2017 08:03 AM
Created: November 06, 2017 09:06 PM
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