National Recognition for Mental Health Training

Hamburg Recognized as Top Innovator

by National Publication

The Hamburg Central School District is being recognized as one of the most innovative districts in the country for its efforts to ensure that no student faces a mental health crisis alone.

Hamburg is one of 45 school districts from 26 states named as a 2018 District of Distinction by District Administration magazine for providing mental health first aid training to all its employees. The designation honors school districts that are leading the way with new ideas that solve challenges. Honorees are selected based on quantifiable results and replicability of their initiatives.

By this September, the district will have provided mental health first aid instruction to all 650 staff members, as well as bus drivers, through a two-year grant from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation. This is being accomplished by a team of in-house instructors who are teaching their colleagues to recognize the risk factors and warning signs of a student in mental distress and how to respond so that the student is quickly connected with help.

“This absolutely makes a difference in the lives of our students, both at school and at home,” said Superintendent Michael Cornell. “It’s a lifeline for many families.”

“Students struggling with mental health issues don’t need to face their challenges alone,” added Colleen Kaney, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Curriculum & Instruction, who initiated the grant proposal. “They’ll always have someone they can turn to in our schools.”  

Students’ mental, social and emotional well-being is increasingly an issue for schools and the community, as it’s estimated that one in five youths suffers from a mental health disorder and that one-half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14. Untreated mental health problems can lead to poor school performance, strained family relationships, contact with the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, substance abuse and other risk behaviors.

The instruction being provided to all employees ensures that no matter what their role in the schools, adults are empowered to help. It’s hoped that raising awareness and creating a supportive environment will decrease the stigma associated with mental health issues. Moving forward, the district plans to expand the training to parents and community organizations.

-- July 11, 2018

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