Your Town Stratford: School District hosts student mental health training

STRATFORD, Wis. (WSAW) -- Mood swings and mental growth spurts are common in adolescent years, but when it comes to underlying mental health issues, that might take a deeper look.

"We're certainly doing everything we can to help our students," said Scott Winch, the superintendent of the Stratford School Distrcit. "It's tough to be a kids these days is a nice way to say it."

One in five adolescents will develop a serious mental health condition, like depression or anxiety disorders, at some point in their life.
Since much of their time is spent inside schools, it's important that teachers, administrators and other staff are able to recognize a deeper issue.

"Working with community partners, providing services for the students, and really working at the core on what we can do as schools districts to best help the students we have, " Winch added.

Many school districts in our area have developed mental health teams to better address mental health issues in school.

"We have great kids, as I think every school district does, but even your great kids, you don't know what's going on with their family at home or anything else like that, and I think the social media stuff on the other end of things doesn't always help people out," Winch explained.

Monday and Tuesday, the Stratford School District volunteered to host a two-day, 12-hour required training focused on student mental health.

"We try to work together as much as we can as area school districts to help each other out," said Winch.

It's made possible through a school safety grant from the Department of Justice and the National Association of School Resource Officers.

"Everyone with those mental health teams that they have, the object is for the team to gather the information, be part of the training, and be able to bring that back to their school," said Richard Parks, administrator for the School District of Marathon.

Marathon was one of roughly 10 local districts to send their team to the training, that covers adolescent mental health concerns, treatments, crisis intervention and de-escalation.

"The information and how teens develop and how their brains develop is important information that should be more widely associated with the schools," Parks added.

Both Parks and Winch agree that it's absolutely critical for teachers and other school staff to be able to recognize the warning signs.

"There's always indicators and whatever you can pick up on to help a student or to help any kind of a situation I think is valuable, and I think that everyone that's here today recognizes that and is looking for ways to do what's best for their students," said Winch.

The Stratford School District will also host a second training on threat assessment in August.